Which door will you choose? Tim Burton’s Labyrinth opens in Paris

Tim Burton welcomes you to his Labyrinth. Are you ready to pick a door?
Tim Burton welcomes you to his Labyrinth. Are you ready to pick a door? Copyright Agence Sébastien d'Assigny
Copyright Agence Sébastien d'Assigny
By Anca Ulea
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Visitors to the travelling exhibition in Paris plunge into the universes created by the inventive US director and discover 150 of his original works.


These days, it seems like every art exhibition has become an “immersive experience”.

The inescapable phrase is now nearly synonymous with giant screens and flashing lights, and has been criticised in some corners of the art world as a lazy way to easily sell tickets.

But Álvaro Molina insists that 'Tim Burton’s Labyrinth' is not that kind of immersive experience. The art director of the interactive exhibition opening in Paris this week says his show is the real deal.

“Initially we didn’t want to use the term 'immersive experience' because it’s tricky,” Molina told Euronews Culture. “But I’m using this immersive experience term because this is really an immersive experience. It’s not a 360-degree screens exhibition, a video thing. You’re going to cross a real universe and physical things, physical walls, with different materials and lights”.

Fabian Morasut via Agence Sébastien d'Assigny
One of the immersive rooms at Tim Burton's Labyrinth exhibitionFabian Morasut via Agence Sébastien d'Assigny

Part art exhibition, part game, 'Tim Burton’s Labyrinth' takes a deep look into the American film director’s extensive body of work. It features more than 150 original works by Burton, including sketches and paintings, as well as large-scale installations that drop visitors right into the heart of his eccentric universes.

After its debut in Madrid, the Labyrinth is now in Paris for the second stop of a world tour, and will open its doors to visitors in the city's Parc de la Villette starting 19 May.

A journey through Tim Burton’s mind and career

The exhibition can be found under a massive tent that spans 5,000 square metres in the park located in the north-eastern part of the French capital.

On a typical visit, guests will pass through 15 different themed rooms that span Burton’s entire career - from his first short film 'Vincent', to classic live action films like 'Edward Scissorhands' and 'Batman', to beloved stop motion and animated films like 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' and 'Corpse Bride'.

Fabian Morasut via Agence Sébastien d'Assigny
An homage to the Joker from Burton's 1989 film "Batman" at Tim Burton's Labyrinth exhibition.Fabian Morasut via Agence Sébastien d'Assigny

The whole thing lasts around an hour and, at several points, visitors will have to choose between two doors, which makes every experience slightly different.

“Each path of each visitor is different because it's a labyrinth,” Molina explains, “So you are free to choose the doors that you want and rooms that you want. But each visitor has a unique experience”.

It’s a closely-guarded secret as to how many rooms are actually in the exhibition, with some sources saying there could be up to 300 possible paths. But Molina says, regardless of that, not to worry - you won’t miss your favourite film.

“I promise that everybody is going to see their favourite film,” Molina insists, “Of course, Tim Burton has a lot of films and it’s really difficult to put every film in the exhibition. So if you miss something, it’s because it’s not in the exhibition”.

Tim Burton the artist and cartoonist

One of the defining features of the Labyrinth is its focus not only on Burton’s filmography, but also his artwork.

In actual fact, Burton began his career not as a director but as an apprentice at Walt Disney Productions in Los Angeles, after studying character animation at university in California. Over the years, sketches, photos and paintings have become an integral part of his creative process.

Some of the images on show at the exhibition reveal characters that Burton imagined, but which never made it into any of his films.

Agence Sébastien d'Assigny
Some of the original artwork at Tim Burton's Labyrinth exhibition features characters that never made it to his films.Agence Sébastien d'Assigny

Molina says that everyone comes away from the exhibition with a different experience; Some people prefer the costumes or the installations, while others love the original artwork.

And as for his favourite part: “It’s really difficult to choose. I think the thing I love the most is the experience, how you go from a small room about one universe to a really big room with another universe. But I love everything”.

Tim Burton’s Labyrinth is open to the public from 19 May to 20 August at the Espace Chapiteaux in Parc de la Villette in Paris.

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