Tim Burton’s Hansel and Gretel Shot on 16mm Film with Amateur Japanese Actors (1983)

The Dis­ney Chan­nel aired Tim Bur­ton’s Hansel and Gre­tel only once, on Hal­loween night in 1983, but it must have giv­en those few who saw the broad­cast much to pon­der over the fol­low­ing three decades. For all that time, the 35-minute adap­ta­tion of that old Ger­man folk­tale stood as per­haps the hard­est-to-see item in the Edward Scis­sorhands and The Night­mare Before Christ­mas auteur’s cat­a­log. Of course, back in 1983, the 25-year-old Bur­ton had­n’t yet made either of those movies, nor any of the oth­er beloved­ly askew fea­tures for which we know him today. He had to his name only a cou­ple of ani­mat­ed shorts made at CalArts and a stop-motion homage to his hero Vin­cent Price. Still, that added up to enough to land him this project, his first live-action film made as an adult, which he used as an out­let for his fas­ci­na­tion with Japan.

Using an all-Japan­ese cast, shoot­ing with the 16-mil­lime­ter aes­thet­ic of old mar­tial arts movies, and tak­ing a spe­cial-effects tech­nique or two from the Godzil­la man­u­al, Bur­ton’s Hansel and Gre­tel looks (and sounds) like no ver­sion of the sto­ry you’ve seen before, or will like­ly ever see again. But at least you can now watch it as often as you like, owing to its recent sud­den appear­ance on Youtube after that long absence from pub­lic viewa­bil­i­ty, bro­ken only by screen­ings at the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art and the Ciné­math­èque Française. In it we expere­ince the inter­sec­tion of the grotesque as rep­re­sent­ed by Grim­m’s Fairy Tales, the grotesque as rep­re­sent­ed by the Bur­ton­ian sen­si­bil­i­ty, the new and strange free­dom of ear­ly cable tele­vi­sion, and the sheer audac­i­ty of a young film­mak­er — not to men­tion a heck of a hand-to-hand com­bat ses­sion between Hansel, Gre­tel, and the Witch who would make them din­ner. Her din­ner, that is.

via io9

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Tim Bur­ton’s Ear­ly Stu­dent Films

Vin­cent, Tim Bur­ton’s Ear­ly Ani­mat­ed Film

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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