Comments on Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s Dark Shadows

I have been in Australia since before the Dark Shadows film opened. I did get to see it before I left. I had made a trip over to London and Pinewood Studios during filming. I got to spend time with Jonathan Frid, and that was special because we had such fondness for each other. Jim Pierson worked very hard to put it all together. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp from Kentucky, along with the rest of the cast and crew, were very good hosts. Tim came to the film with an open heart and mind for the spirit of Dark Shadows. . . of what he had stored away as a child. As Tim told Jonathan, “If it weren’t for you, there would be no movie. None of us would be here.”

Director TIM BURTON and JOHNNY DEPP on set during the production of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ gothic comedy “DARK SHADOWS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

In the film, Tim does not shy away from the big things, the largeness of our lives. . . when we do not edit ourselves, when our dreams and inner beings take us to that other world where the shadows can be stark and dark. Barnabas awakes to a world he did not choose — rather he erupts with the defensive, frightened, fierceness of a Tasmanian Devil, finding himself on the frontier of the new age of technology, trying to make sense of it all. He is determined to restore the mansion to its former glory. The passions of Dark Shadows are played out on a big canvas with the mystery of life in all its strangeness, its weirdness. The vivid colors of our imaginations, pounding, pulsing. . . where love, the hunger for it and what it is like to not have love, to not feel love, is played out raw. When Barnabas gives Roger the choice to stay or go, Roger makes the easy choice and goes. The revenge of bitter love, of unanswered love, the dirty reptile that arises in revenge is there careening off the walls. . . the act of going from one horror to another and how we survive as children by going home to another world, to escape if you will to a world of our making. . . to a place where love is not only promised but given fully. Oh, how much we will sacrifice for love.

Tim looked at fate, at destiny, at reincarnation, at morality and the vengeance of a mother protecting her cub. He gives us mortality and the price for those who want everlasting life. What is Doctor Hoffman pondering when she opens her eyes? Finally, there is the cleansing of fire, which will bring new beginnings and new growth.

Tim and Johnny have used their huge talents to let us view a world that has meant so much to so many. . . a world that is still in orbit.

David

Share
Posted in Notes | Leave a comment

A Letter to Jonathan

My dear friend,

Once, when I talked to you in Canada, you told me that you were not going anywhere. You said you get out of bed, put on your robe and slippers, have a nibble of breakfast, and then sit down at your computer and check in with the world. So I took you at your word. You always told me what you thought. Now, you just up and go without a word. How dare you.

Barnabas and Quentin Collins

Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins and David Selby as Quentin Collins in DARK SHADOWS

You never mentioned that you were contemplating a long trip. After all, we had just recently returned from a rather long but short trip to the countryside of England where we took up residence in a very fine resort – at least what we saw of it was fine. The food you barely sampled, but the nightcap went down so smoothly that you told me you had not appreciated my entrance onto the show those many years ago. But I never knew. You were never anything but considerate to me, gentlemanly, a throwback to when there were gentlemen – courteous – exquisite charming manners but always with a quiet, respectful, measuring with those skeptical eyes, and then an easy smile.

It seemed right for such fellow travelers to be in England. We were there to replay, visit, all the way back, a bit of our ancient history. That highway never ends. It was worth the trip just to hold your hand as you stepped off the curb….worth it to reflect back on the fine time I had reading that play with you in New York to all your adoring fans, worth it to feel anxious at Pinewood Studios when I could not find you for a few moments.

How rare it is to be able to go back in time to see where it all began. Our hosts could not have been more cordial. After all, as Tim said, in the glorious drawing room of that mansion– none of us would be here if not for you.

Memory is a strange bird. It persists. Why? Memory is vivid. And love?! Well….what was it about Dark Shadows that compelled people like Tim and Johnny to watch, to be affected so, so strongly. They needed to watch, had to watch. They were drawn to Dark Shadows like a moth to light.

Your light was full of mystery, of history, of genealogy, of love. You carried the heavy past with such grace and allure. That need to watch had something to do with love, a love for you.

What is it about love that made Dark Shadows so needed by millions? They loved you, Jonathan, as did I.

The night is long, the candles will stay lit.

Till we meet again.

David

Webmaster’s note: Actor Jonathan Frid, who portrayed vampire Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, passed away on April 14, 2012. In June 2011, Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and David Selby made a brief trip to England to film cameos in the new Dark Shadows movie. In August 2011, David Selby appeared on stage with Jonathan Frid at the Dark Shadows Festival in Brooklyn to read a scene from the play Mass Appeal. It was their final performance together.

While appearing in Divine Rivalry at the Old Globe in San Diego, David Selby recorded audio of the letter to be presented at the Dark Shadows Day at Collinwood held at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York on July 28, 2012.

Thanks to the Dark Shadows Festival for allowing us to share this video with those who were unable to attend.

Share
Posted in Notes | 5 Comments

Some Additional Holiday Thoughts

Just watched the most painful segment on 60 Minutes about people in Cleveland where their homes are underwater. . . . They owe more than the houses are worth. I simply am at a loss for how such people are being treated. It makes one so angry, and, yet, you feel so helpless to help them, but we MUST! All the tears will not help them. All the words won’t help.

This afternoon, I saw the Ford’s Theatre production of A Christmas Carol. It was wonderful. It should tour every town in America. Grown men were crying, as was I. Scrooge sees the light! It should be seen by every bank official in this country. It is not so much the individuals at the banks as it is the institution that is earning the cold reputation of Scrooge. Will these institutions find the compassion that Scrooge found? Will they look back on their histories and find their souls?

It is hard to understand why banks will foreclose and not attempt to lower the principal that is owed to them. Instead, they let the houses stand empty — soon to be looted of anything that has any value, thus driving the value of the house toward zero while creating another homeless family. I was fortunate to grow up in a home, a house that cost $5,000 — a house that my father built with help from his father and from my mother. I remember the payment that Mom would make out each month to the bank. That house gave me some sense of security. I was taught to respect the house, my home, to do right by it, to be a good boy in it, to be proud of it.

A house without people is nothing but a house, no different than the other foreclosed houses. It is the people that make the life of a house, that make the cold floors warm, the stale smells, sweet. What about the value of family, of loved ones, of children with their cries and shouts of joy? I cannot believe there is not a way to save these houses and, thus, the people that give them life. Knowing what has been done, what can we now do? There is not a more timely play to be seen than A Christmas Carol. Perhaps Scrooge can light the path of compassion.

Again, have a lovely and loving holiday.

David

Share
Posted in Holiday, Notes | Leave a comment