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Published:October 27th, 2005 09:34 EST
Movie Review: The Corpse Bride

Movie Review: The Corpse Bride

By Maria Grella

In Tim Burton’s world, everything is gray, slightly gruesome and quite wonderful. His latest picture, The Corpse Bride, will undoubtedly raise comparisons with his other monster hit, The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Though it is quite similar, The Corpse Bride manages to stand on its own as a visually stunning and sinister tale. 

The premise of the movie is inspired by an old Russian folk-tale about a man doomed when marrying a dead woman.  In this film, the Van Dort family has arranged for their son, Victor, to be married to the Everglot’s daughter, Victoria, and everything must go “according to plan”. 

These two families have their own agenda; the Everglot’s have a prestigious name but are near bankruptcy, while the Van Dort’s have hard-earned money, but little class.  The marriage of their offspring will save them both.  Though nervous and unsure, Victor and Victoria have that magic moment and it appears true love is born. 

Unfortunately, clumsy and shy Victor makes a mess of the rehearsal and flees in shame into the woods.  As he agonizes about the chaos, he goes over his vows once again in the dead of the forest and succeeds in not only remembering his forgotten vows, but in accidentally marrying a corpse. The morbid adventure begins.

Johnny Depp, a long time collaborator of Tim Burton's, voices the well intentioned Victor.  The duo had teamed up for four previous films, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood and the odd ball favorite that began it all, Edward Scissorhands.  Johnny’s character never seems to change, even in this animated movie; dark hair with a pale white face, timid in manner, and good hearted but awkward.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Other Burton themes are found throughout the movie, including striped dresses, washed out gray scenery, twisted trees, quirky music (by another collaborator, Danny Elfman) and the flawed female co-star.  Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson and Albert Finney lend their voices to characters, as well.

The dialogue and the story development were well written, but like the corpse bride herself, flawed.  More explanation seemed in order regarding how a common civilian could marry himself to another, how the cross-over from the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead comes about, or the final reaction of certain characters to the movie’s conclusion.  The running time, which is only 77 minutes long, certainly could have been extended to further go into the depth of the story.

Visually, this movie is stunning.  The dress of the corpse bride is a little risqué, but is an interesting contrast to the fully clothed, almost uptight, Land of the Living attire. Done in the same stop-motion animated technique as The Nightmare Before Christmas, it is set in the 19th century Victorian era.  The rolling piano melody is simply lovely, as is the lyrical content.  Lacking is the catchy melodies in Jack Skeleton’s world, but the songs are just as unique and pleasurable. 


Fans of the dark and twisted imagination of Tim Burton will absolutely adore The Corpse Bride, despite these small imperfections.  A true movie lover will appreciate the painstaking hard work involved in making a stop-motion animation.  Children and adults can enjoy this tale; one of a heartbreaking, romantic love story, with a deadly secret.