Exhibition - Tim Burton invites you into his labyrinth

By Marianne Velma, Paris, La Villette, Espace Chapiteaux,, 19 may 2023

Tim Burton's Labyrinth is a project mixing exhibition, immersive game and movie scene. This experience was created in collaboration with Tim Burton and his team. The main goal is to offer an "immersive game" through a unique experience for each visitor. As the name suggests, the experience is a labyrinth where we invite you to get lost and create your own path. Tim Burton himself defined it as a fantastic "funfair", a kind of surprising journey through all his films.

Tim Burton invites you into his labyrinth

Welcome to Tim Burton's head! This is the crazy challenge that awaits you at the Chapiteaux de la Villette with the immersive experience: Tim Burton's labyrinth. You have until August 20th to try to pierce the mystery of the filmmaker's universe, between dream and nightmare. Follow the guide. 

Who hasn't dreamed one day of penetrating an artist's mind? Especially when the aesthete in question is named Tim Burton... With this 5,000 m² labyrinth, the director of Mars Attacks! and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has designed a sort of mental map, life size, where each room seems to correspond to a corner of his brain. 

Who is hiding behind the door ? 

Even if the faces of Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin for friends) and other cheerfully monstrous figures populate the place, visitors who enter here do not give up hope. On the contrary, they open themselves to an ocean of wild creative possibilities. To get there, you'll have to pass through a series of doors numbered from 1 to 4. As you wander through, you will come face to face with some of the most iconic characters from his filmography, as if you were breaking through the fourth wall. The Queen of Hearts, Beetlejuice, Emily the skeleton bride or the iconoclastic Jack, the pumpkin king, often appear unexpectedly as if you were in the middle of a dream.

More confidential creations

While these 7th art-style atmospheres will delight fans, the cramped rooms devoted to the filmmaker's more personal work are real backroads. Far from the hustle and bustle of the cinema, the sketches, animated frames and graphic sculptures of the demiurge almost seem to be in a separate temporality. Permanently present in Tim Burton's mind, they serve as a dreamlike red thread in the whole of his work. Above all, they allow us to shed a slightly different light on the personality of our host. 

Let yourself be carried away

Beware, in the Burtonian multiverse, you may lose your sense of direction. Don't fight it, the feeling of "letting go" is an integral part of the experience and even seems indispensable if you hope to really connect to the director's psyche. In fact, the labyrinth exercise of taking one path rather than another will allow you to change your perspective at certain moments. This is particularly the case in the space dedicated to the Funeral. Depending on which door you come through, you will either be mesmerized by the sad eyes of the chilled lovers or you will discover the floating and torn veil of the bride. The emotions felt are completely different!

Open your eyes but not only

An advice, know that this stroll is best lived with all your senses on the alert. The temptation remains great, as in all exhibitions, to let the flashes on the drawings and other creatures that you will meet. But take the time to observe the decor, without a sepia filter, to avoid missing subtle details. In each room, the walls, floors and music have been designed to match the main theme. Look down, because at Beetlejuice you might just squash a few cockroaches (virtual ones, mind you). Under your feet, the materials change texture from one room to another (carpeting, trompe-l'oeil tiles...). Better still, the music, alternately frightening or phantasmagorical, adds to your sense of immersion. 

In the land of Tim Burton

This trip through the looking glass, haunted by benevolent and terrifying spectres, has only one flaw: it does not cover the whole filmography of the director. What a pity that the creations of Sleepy Hollow or Big Fish did not find refuge there! But it doesn't matter, because you'll have understood the main point when you see the mischievous smile of the Cheshire Cat: the imagination is the gateway to other worlds.

Photos : Marianne Font / Fabian Morasut