Despite having decided that immersive exhibits were not for me and the fact that I’m not a Tim Burton fan, here I found myself in Madrid to see this one: Tim Burton’s Labyrinth El Laberinto de Tim Burton. Truth be told, I was only there because my sibling asked me to accompany them. I did not find premium tickets for any of the dates either of us was available, but the 6th of December is a national holiday in Spain, and I calculated that if we were there at opening times it might not be too busy, and we would not come across too many kids.
Tim Burton is an American film-maker born in 1958. His first “hit” may have been Stalk of the Celery Monster, which he wrote, directed and animated when he was a student in the California Institute of Arts, in 1979. It presumably earned him a good grade, but more importantly, an animator’s apprenticeship at Disney Animation Studios. With time, he developed a shrill eerie style, with lots of colours and creepy designs that have increased as years have passed, sometimes defined as “gothic fantasy” – I would refer to it as strident and macabre at times, to be honest. His greatest or most famous works include Beetlejuice, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare before Christmas, and the first two Batman films.
The exhibition is hosted in a weird place in Madrid, Espacio Ibercaja Delicias, which might look less… abandoned… when it hasn’t been raining for days, I guess. The space consists on a big tent – where we were not going, it might be designed for circuses or so, some kind of bar / cafeteria, and the monster-like building that hosts the exhibit. It is called a labyrinth because out of the thirty-ish wards, you have to go around choosing doors to see different rooms of the exhibit, insomuch that you would need four rounds to see the complete thing. In the end, you choose 15 rooms to see, out of which some are common, and you reach them from whichever previous place you were in. Others are “less common” and you can reach them through several doors, but not all. You enter the labyrinth through a toothy monster’s mouth, then there’s a big button that “decides” on the first room for you.
In the rooms there are sculptures that represent the characters, some of them with the original clothes that were designed for them (if the film is a live-action), the plain clothes, and on the walls sketches and animations, some original, some “inspired”, and some made specifically for the exhibit. Some rooms are small and rather empty, others are decorated like the movie sets. There are tricks with lights, and some mirrors, but nothing “immersive” about it, and way too many people around considering the size of some rooms.
The idea of a labyrinth is interesting, but I don’t think the price warrants just seeing half of the exhibit, especially considering the big “misses” of not seeing all the The Nightmare before Christmas. We took about 40 – 45 minutes to go through the 15 rooms.
What I am aware we saw included:
- Edward Scissorhands
- Batman and Batman returns
- Mars attacks!
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Alice in Wonderland or Alice Through the Looking Glass
- Corpse Bride
- Jack from The Nightmare before Christmas
I think this is an exhibit for die-hard fans that are willing to pay for the premium ticket and see the whole thing twice. What it’s not, and that’s for sure, is for kids.
On both ways, we had some train trouble – delays and technical problems, but nothing too dramatic, and I was home before sunset – but after buying a stack of Christmas candy canes! And my sibling enjoyed, which was the goal anyway.