In today’s New York Times Arts & Leisure section, there’s a huge feature about film maker Tim Burton. He talks about his movies, his life and, yes, funeral planning.
Burton, as you may know, made darkly comic films that include “Beetlejuice” “Edward Scissorhands” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” “Corpse Bride” and “Big Fish.” You might wonder why I included that last film. It’s a great meditation on the stories of our lives and the role funerals play in bringing community together and the importance of story telling in remembering the lives of those we love.
Burton’s new animated feature, “Frankenweenie” will be released by Walt Disney on October 5. It tells the charming story of a young boy (named Victor Frankenstein) who reanimates the corpse of his dead pet dog.
In the Q&A portion of the feature, Burton is asked about his legacy.
Q. This may seem strange to ask someone with many years of work still ahead, but what would you want your legacy to be?
A. What do I want on my gravestone?
Q. It sounds like something you’ve thought about.
A. I do. I think it’s wise to plan ahead. Start early — plan your funeral now. (my highlight) It’s not a morbid thought. If you want something to happen in a certain way, especially the last thing, you might as well.
The thing that I care about most — that you did something that really had an impact on them. People come up on the street, and they have a “Nightmare” tattoo, or little girls saying they love “Sweeney Todd,” and you’re like, “How were you able to see it?” Or you see people, especially around Halloween, dressed up in costume, as Corpse Bride or the Mad Hatter or Sally. It’s not critics, it’s not box office. Things that you know are connecting with real people.
There’s a lesson for us all. It’s our impact on other people that will be remembered. That’s our words and our deeds, every single day. What will people say about you at your funeral?