It’s been several decades since his death, but Edward D. Wood Jr. is still considered one of if not the worst director in the history of film. Not many people however consider the frustration and sheer will-power he put into every one of his films. His love of storytelling drove him through the good times and the bad, and he had plenty of bad. This biopic stands as a celebration of not only his compassion but the very compassion that any filmmaker has when they want to bring their story to the screen.
Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) was a struggling artist who got a few lucky breaks that helped him struggle along through his career. His first encounter and following friendship with Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) gave him the inspiration and the star to make some of the worst yet most passionate films of the sci-fi and horror genres.
This movie has an all-star cast of actors. Depp gives an outstanding performance as the chipper, always optimistic Ed Wood. His cheeriness and strength are what guide the film, and Landau’s performance as Lugosi acts to solidify it as a masterpiece. Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeffrey Jones, Max Casella and Patricia Arquette all appear, making up a well-acted cast with some wonderful chemistry.
The passion that was put into this film is no less than that of Wood himself. Director Tim Burton and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski obviously cared a lot about Ed Wood and his work, and I can’t really blame them. His movies really are terrible, but his child-like excitement for his work is something that anybody can relate to. The story in general is outlandish, preposterous and downright silly, and yet there isn’t a moment where I didn’t believe a word of it. In all honesty, I don’t know how accurate this film is to what really happened, but it feels like one of those instances of “You can’t make this stuff up if you tried.” It never really stretched the realm of probability though. The reenactments of scenes from Wood’s films are so dead-on that they make you cringe to know that they’re based on actual film takes.
Ed Wood is a brilliant film made by a brilliant director about a brilliant visionary. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. And if you have seen it, I highly recommend you watch it again because it just never gets old.