Adapted from the eponymous novel by Ransom Riggs (2011), Miss Peregrine and the special children (2016) marks the second collaboration between Eva Green and Tim Burton. The actress had indeed already filmed under the aegis of the filmmaker in Dark Shadows four years earlier. Both met again on the set of Dumbo (2019), while Green played a French trapeze artist.
Remember … It was after the death of his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) that Jacob (Asa Butterfield) discovered the existence ofa mysterious world leading to a magical place: the House of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) for Private Children. Each of the residents is endowed with a very specific power. But the mystery swells and the danger grows as powerful enemies appear. Jacob will then discover that only his own peculiarity can save his new friends facing M. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).
The rights to Riggs’ novel were acquired by Chernin Entertainment, a production company based at Twentieth century fox of which Jenno Topping is the president. A strange and frightening book which, according to her, represents a very beautiful story on the coming of age. A story that could not have been brought to the screen by a director other than Tim Burton :
The minute we read the manuscript, we knew Tim Burton would be the perfect director to shoot an adaptation. It was as if it had been written for him!
The filmmaker has on his side immediately felt connected to this dreamlike work, both powerful and mysterious. Reason why Miss Peregrine and the special children is so tinted with its so special paw.
Fire special effects
Tim Burton was keen to use special effects as little as possible for prefer real physical effects to them. The goal ? Offer spectators maximum realism. Visual effects supervisor Frazer Churchill had to create from scratch the unique appearance of the Sepulchres. These invisible Individuals created by Mr. Barron needed as a reminder to feed on the eyes of Individuals to become human again. The technician therefore based himself on images of tall emaciated figures with sharp teeth, small eyes, sickly-looking skin and devoid of a face to make them horrifying. Bet won:
It all looks like a child’s nightmare. This was the starting point for the visual design. We wanted the Sepulchres to still look a little bit like the humans they once were. They are just monstrous enough to be scary.
Churchill and his team also took charge of the visual effects that help create bees coming out of the mouth of Hugh (Milo Parker) and obey his orders. We also owe them the skeleton design from the epic Battle of Blackpool, which also features stop-motion elements. The technician is finally the creator of time loops by Miss Peregrine, the famous time capsules that isolate children from external dangers. In order to make them as realistic as possible without using special effects, time-lapse shots (ultra-accelerated effect produced frame by frame) were used. But also a large collection of lighting simulating day and night as well as rain!
A familiar story
Burton spoke about this label of “particular” that we are often glued to during childhood:
Children never really forget this feeling of difference. It stays with you forever. I myself was referred to as “particular” because I loved monster movies. In childhood, you experience this kind of thing, and sometimes it extends even later in life. A lot of people are feeling it.
The powerful bond between Jacob and his grandfather in Miss Peregrine and the special children finally sensitized the director. The latter was indeed infinitely close to his grandmother who was the most important person in his life and whom he describes as “magical and very special”. According to him, a relationship with a grandparent is different from that which we can have with our parents or our friends. This is a unique situation.