A good biographical film is one that makes me look for as much content and information about the main topic of that film for hours after watching it. Such is the case with this project by Tim Burton, who took the man who is officially considered the worst director in the history of Hollywood, Edward D. Wood Jr., as the central theme. Although at first mention this man may not sound too intriguing, Barton’s evident sense of beauty and style makes his hero fit into an environment that will delight you and possibly interest you to explore his life in more detail.
Ed Woody (Johnny Depp) is a screenwriter, director and producer whose enthusiasm for making films is very far from his qualities and the conditions in which he works. After several fiascos, he accidentally meets the famous Beli Lugosi (Martin Landau), the master of horror, whose fame has long passed and in whom Wood sees a ticket for the Hollywood A list. He convinces him and they start a cooperation that will eventually grow into a friendship. Meanwhile, Wood has problems with a hysterical girl, problems with money, bad associates, bad working conditions, church workers and occasional criminal activities, but with nothing that can hinder his enthusiasm, and he continues to produce his films.
The plot of the film is set in the mid-fifties, when Edward gave birth to his most popular films, and it was done entirely in black and white, which is a complete success. There is a curiosity that the decisive factor in choosing such a technique for recording is the fact that no one knows for sure what Bela Lugosi looks like in color. Costume design, make-up and production are at the highest level, they fantastically represent the world of B and C Hollywood productions and you have a realistic insight into the world of people who work and earn in such conditions.
You may not be interested in the protagonist’s story and you may not be interested in Hollywood B production as such, but Barton simply draws you into that world, carries you into that time period and you just stay fascinated by it.
The script is sentimental, warm, caring and full of quality humor. There is a noticeable nostalgia for the Hollywood era when everything was much simpler and cleaner, but, on the other hand, there is a noticeable and critical review because even then everything revolved around money.
Edward Wood Jr. is an unequivocally positive and optimistic character who is ready for any kind of co-cooperation in order to transfer his ideas, albeit modest, to the film. In his opinion, enthusiasm and will are enough to compensate for the lack of conditions or talent. His specialty is exploitation without an emphasis on dialogue and quality technical and stage equipment, he improvises things to the maximum, in a not very high quality way. His films are rushing from bad to worse, but Barton is limited to the part of his career in which film failures can be forgiven, concluding with Plan 9 from Outer Space from 1959.
Johnny Depp is simply a master here and the fact is that his career today lacks films in which he can show his talent. He simply came to terms with his character, at the same time playing a historical figure and a character from a film from the 1950s, and there is no clear boundary in that acting. His performance is passionate, and in support of that is the impression he left about how big Edward was. However, the acting of Martin Landau, for which he won an Oscar, leaves a much bigger impression. He represents Bela Lugošija at the end of his life, a former star who was forgotten and became a morphine addict, and it is fair to say that he played him masterfully. The whole casting did a great job, and I would single out Bill Murray.