Friday, October 6, 2017

Movie Review: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005)

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005) directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson

In the mid-1800s two families plan a marriage of convenience for themselves. The Van Dorts are nouveau riche and want their son Victor to marry into high society. The Everglots have a long social history but have fallen on hard financial times and want their daughter Victoria to marry into money. The rehearsal doesn't go well (there's this really complicated wedding vow that Victor can't quite memorize), so Victor flees into the woods. As he practices, he finally gets it right and puts the ring on what he thinks is a tree branch sticking out of the ground. Actually, the branch is the hand of Emily, the Corpse Bride, who gladly rises from her grave and says, "I do." Victor is dragged into the underworld for a celebration while Victoria waits above ground for his return.

The story is a fine blend of Tim Burton macabre and Grimm Brothers fairy tale. The land of the living is almost black and white, quite lifeless and dull, with little passion or joy. The underworld is, by contrast, jazzy and imaginative. The movie has a few musical numbers (much like Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas) that are reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan light operas. The comedy works well and the stop-motion animation is cartoony enough to be only slightly horrifying (again, like A Nightmare Before Christmas). The theme of treating others with respect even at the cost of personal comfort or ambition (what the good guys do in this movie and the bad guys don't) naturally flows from the story and gives it some depth beyond the silly undead hijinks. The movie is a fun, satisfying story that moves quickly (only 77 minutes!) and ends poetically.


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