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Corpse Bride (2005)

Directed by Tim Burton & Mike Johnson Written by John AugustPamela Pettler & Caroline Thompson

  There is so much beauty behind stop motion projects to be appreciated. From the amount of work and detail put into the different sets for often, very little screen time. Tim Burton surly being no stranger to expertly balancing between the two realms and having a way of making the dead appear more appealing as opposed to spending time with the living. His team handling about 84 characters in all and besides the enormous patience in order to shoot frame by frame, were equipped with 13 extra figures for the 3 main characters created; needed for multiple set-ups. Working with mostly a familiar cast in addition to some other favorites; Tracey Ullman, Joanna Lumley and Richard E. Grant.

  Victor is seen freeing his butterfly as it roams around the city and his parents Nell (Ullman) and William Van Dort (Paul Whitehouse) begin to head out for their son’s “glorious” wedding rehearsal. Though never having met Victoria (Emily Watson) or her parents Maudeline (Lumley) and Finis Everglot, (Albert Finney) it was already decided that they were to marry and live “happily” ever after, whether they liked it or not. It seemed her family had not a penny left to their name and while Victor’s parents were only Fish Merchants, it would just have to do. Awkwardly meeting at the piano after playing a tune, he hears of his wife to be not having much skill at all, music suggested at being “too passionate.” Rehearsal that night with Pastor Galswell (Christopher Lee) not going well as Victor fumbles over himself and has trouble lighting the candle and getting his lines right. He feels the pressure and accidentally sets fire to his future mother-in law, fleeing to the forest where he eventually calms down and is able to say his vows with confidence, enacting out the correct mannerisms. Setting the ring on a branch that just so happens to come to life and reveal a corpse bride who states, “I do.” It seemed a past lover had wormed his way into her heart and convinced her to elope and tell no one. Leaving her for dead and taking her family jewels, she vowed to wait for her true love who she was sure would find her. Though Victor’s disappearance had Victoria’s parents quick to pawn her off to the next interested party, Barkis Bittern, (Grant) who we later find is the culprit behind Emily’s (the bride) death.

  Longing to see his fiance, he convinces his bride of finding a way back, which happens upon visiting Elder Gutknecht (Michael Gough) for help. However using his time to tell Victoria how much he missed her, is spotted by his bride and angrily taken back, demanding to know who the other woman was. Told she had been the other woman and that their marriage had been a mistake in that he would marry a corpse; until after hearing of his fiance moving on (that is). Next rallying to get the dead walking amongst the living so as to have a proper wedding before joining the underworld with his new wife. Unaware of Victoria locked away and being forced to marry Barkis after hearing that Victor had been found in the arms of another woman. The town becomes frightened as the dead walk amongst them though as a means to join together for the event to follow. Emily stopping the wedding to say how he had already helped her out in setting her free but that he wasn’t her soul mate. While thinking himself to be clever and speaking ill of Emily, Barkis drinks the poison as the dead wait for him to turn before getting their revenge. Ending with the Corpse Bride collapsing into butterflies in route to the moon and the former couple brought together once again for the implied happy ending.

  So, a story about a woman who wrongfully falls for someone already belonging to someone else; I’m sure it wasn’t too hard to get into character in that case. (Too Soon?) I personally don’t believe Burton could ever make a stop motion project as great as The Nightmare before Christmas, though found it having many of the same elements. Both were tales of star-crossed lovers, the difference in one being that they get to be together and the other (this one) they don’t. Both had an undead canine that accompanied the male character. Then of course the different portrayals of male characters wanting more out of life and having a curiosity that eventually takes them on a separate adventure.

   I would say the reason when first watching Corpse Bride of being a bit disappointed was because of what I might have expected. He had made the real world so bleak and lacking of pulse that I found it hard to follow at all and only enjoyed when the Bride was on; such a beautiful creation. However it did take me a couple tries before actually enjoying the movie as an entirety, maybe it just grew on me. Danny Elfman has to easily be one of my favorite composers and his work with Burton has produced many a favorite soundtracks, this being no different. He also played the voice of Bojangles and had the best musical sequence (in my opinion); what a voice on that one. By this point in time, he and Burton know what to expect from the other and is able to convey his stories so well throughout his songs. Besides his own musical number, a favorite part was the duo of Victor and Emily on piano (the coffin piano didn’t hurt either). The outcome being an okay story that wasn’t as lasting as his other animation work but had something to say, what that may have been though, who can really say?