Synopsis: Tim Burton memorializes real life cult filmmaker Edward D. Wood Jr., along with his cast of eccentric regulars.
Every real life figure is portrayed beautifully and thoughtfully, particularly Depp as the passionate Ed Wood and Landau as Hollywood’s forgotten bogyman Bella Lugosi. Everything is wonderfully quirky, which probably wasn’t far from the truth.
Some liberties were taken with the actual events, while interesting tidbits like Frank Sinatra paying for Lugosi’s drug rehab were omitted. Some exaggerations might have been made, particularly with how Lugosi’s relationship with Karloff was likely more that of coworker than rival.
It’s oddly fitting that a film about a cult filmmaker and his compatriots has itself become a cult film. Ed Wood was likely as eccentric as he wasn’t. He was a WWII veteran that not only wanted to tell stories on the big screen, but also happened to like wearing women’s clothing. Even though his films were not exactly the cinematic spectacle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wood’s passion for filmmaking — with his penchant for angora — always bled through. There seems to be some debate on the nature of his relationship with Bella Lugosi, who Wood certainly idolized. It seems Lugosi’s son felt Wood exploited him when he needed money most. Lugosi was addicted to morphine, related to an injury he sustained in WWI, and his unfortunately typecast career was drying up. Wood needed a star, and his favorite actor was available. I am of the opinion that it began as a relationship of convenience that led to real friendship. It is easy to see them bonding over war stories and cinema.
Regardless, Ed Wood is a film about clawing one’s way through a career when the world is in the way. His passion is an integral part of all his films. It is arguably easier to independently do anything today, and internet crowdfunding for film and TV can lead to real products, good or bad. In the 1950s? It might have been as difficult and luck-oriented as the film suggests. Indeed, his career simply fell apart in the 1960s (he shifted to supernatural porn), and his alcoholism got the better of him in the end. Ed Wood, the man, gave the world some of the best bad movies ever made in spite of everything, and Burton’s film highlights the joy of that.
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