Corpse Bride

2006-07-17 16:53


Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) is nervous. Not only is it the day before his wedding, but he has also never met his bride before. His parents, wealthy fish merchants, have arranged for him to marry Victoria (Emily Watson), the only daughter of the noble but impoverished Everglots. During the wedding rehearsal at the Everglot mansion, Victor finally meets his intended. Happily he finds her absolutely enchanting, but this just makes him even MORE nervous. After bungling his vows one too many times, Victor flees to the nearby forest to practice. He finally perfects his vows and places the ring on a nearby branch resembling a hand. Little does he realise the branch is a hand, and that he has just married the cursed Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter), who whisks him off to the remarkably lively underworld. Now Victor must find a way to escape his ghoulish new spouse and find his way back to the lovely Victoria.


Who on earth would dare make an entire feature film about an undead bride using only puppets, not to mention pack this film with singing, humour, romance, intelligence and delicate poignancy? Why Tim Burton of course.

The idea isn't entirely revolutionary - Burton took a far bigger chance back in 1993 with The Nightmare Before Christmas. Having never worked with animation of any kind, Burton wrote and produced one of the freshest and funniest animated movies of the last decade. Now he has decided to share the directing reins with Mike Johnson (who animated James and the Giant Peach), and the results is a film as good, if not better, than his previous hit.

Not that Corpse Bride is at all similar to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Yes, both are puppet-animated films and both involve the undead in some form, but that is where the similarity ends. Where the earlier film is all madcap inventiveness and infectious joy, Corpse Bride is all restrained elegance and moody beauty. It may have plenty of humour and plenty of songs, but the tone is far more reflective and serious than The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Of course "serious" doesn't necessarily mean "boring" - the film just deals (as bizarre as it may sound) with more genuine emotion than its more cartoonish predecessor. Where The Nightmare Before Christmas had the feel of a film built around the song-and-dance numbers, Corpse Bride is just the opposite, with a strong and emotionally engaging central story complemented by a few songs.

Corpse Bride is arguably much more beautiful to look at than The Nightmare Before Christmas. The puppets are more finely detailed and intricate and the overall effect is much more seamless. In fact you sometimes get the feeling that you might be watching a traditionally animated film, if it weren't for the flawless sense of depth and the subtle lighting. The character design is particularly impressive, conjuring up a host of beautifully crafted caricatures that are a delight to behold. Holding it all together is an atmosphere of brooding Victorian Gothic, all moonlight and clinging mists, that lends the film an almost ethereal beauty.

Fans of Burton's first animated film may be slightly disappointed by its dour younger sibling, as will anyone who expects a Pixar-esque display of wise-cracking, mainstream animation. But if you treat the film as an entirely new experience you are sure to be enchanted by its delicate poignancy and its sure-footed grace.

- Alistair Fairweather

It's ghoulish! It's ghastly! It's absolutely great! Fans of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" are in for a treat

Fred 2005/10/28 10:20 AM
Great! I saw it on pirate DVD and it is GREAT! Pirates of the Carribean
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