Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: A Study in All Things Strange and Unusual


When one thinks of the name of legendary director and producer Tim Burton, several scenarios generally come to mind: dark, gothic castles, whimsical landscapes, and of course, his trademark stop-motion animation characters. The highly anticipated Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the most recent of Burton’s films to be added to his repertoire, some of the most notable being Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, and Batman.


Based on the book by Ransom Riggs, this movie displays some of the more remarkable aspects of Burton’s cinematic genius, such as his use of stop-motion animation and his feel for mixing the ordinary with the extraordinary. The movie begins with the introduction of the main character, Jacob, played by Asa Butterfield, who lives in Florida. Jacob is a seemingly mundane boy who has protective yet somewhat detached parents. The plot thickens when Jacob’s grandfather is killed. Before he dies, however, he relays to Jake a series of convoluted phrases, telling him to “find the bird,” and that Jake must go to the orphanage he (Jake’s grandfather) once lived in. Through a series of clues, Jacob is able to find the fabled children’s home of his late grandfather in Wales. There he meets the strange and mysterious Miss Peregrine, played by Eva Greene, who is the headmistress of the orphanage. Jake soon discovers that this is no ordinary children’s home, and that he is actually the key to saving it from the eerie, towering monsters called hollowgasts, led by the evil Barron, played by Samuel L. Jackson. He is whisked away on a fantastical adventure that includes traveling back in time to the 1940’s, fighting monsters, and meeting interesting and peculiar children, one of whom is Emma, played by Ella Purnell. By the end of the movie, Jake discovers that though he thought he was just an ordinary boy, he actually possesses powers beyond his wildest imaginations.


While producing this movie, Tim Burton had some interesting and slightly unorthodox methods by which he created the general layout. He drew all the ideas for characters, props, and storyboards by hand, putting his trademark spin to things described in the book off of which the movie is based. He deals with some common recurring themes, such as the struggles of misfits to be understood and accepted in the world, and continuously and harmoniously blends the tragic with the comic. Though the plot does get a bit confusing and there are a lot of unanswered questions by the end of the movie, the overall effect is that of whimsy and delight with a satisfactory ending.

All in all, this movie is a wonderful compilation of all things Tim Burton. It is funny, interesting, whimsical, and action-packed (not to mention a bit gruesome). It is a good family-friendly movie, though it might be too intense for younger children. It is rousing movie that deals with themes such as finding courage to do what’s right with whatever skills you have, and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is the inspiring tale of a timid boy who finds the courage to stand up and fight for what’s right, risking his life for those he cares for. This is definitely a movie that one will want to see again!