Monday, March 13, 2006

Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride

The Corpse Bride

I watched Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride at the weekend. It's a stop-motion animation featuring hundreds of mechanical puppets, and the voices of Johnny Depp (Victor Van Dort), Helena Bonham-Carter (Emily the Corpse Bride), Emily Watson (Victoria Everglot), Tracey Ullman (Nell Van Dort), Paul Whitehouse (William Van Dort), Joanna Lumley (Maudeline Everglot), Albert Finney (Finnis Everglot), Richard E. Grant (Barkis Bittern), Christopher Lee (Pastor Galswells), Michael Gough (Elder Gutknecht) and Jane Horrocks (Black Widow Spider).

This is a film that should really be seen on a large screen to fully appreciate the effects, but unfortunately I missed seeing it at the cinema and had to make do with seeing it on a far smaller screen. Even so, the visual effects are stunning and (as with Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit) my breath was taken away over and over again at the sheer enormity of the work that goes into animated films, be they stop-motion, claymation or CGI.

The story itself is a touching one. Two prominent families have arranged for their children to be married, the Van Dorts in order to gain social advancement, the Everglots to overcome their financial difficulties. Victor and Victoria meet for the first time the night before their wedding and although they appear to be shyly attracted to each other, the Victorian atmosphere that prevails daunts Victor. As a result, he has trouble remembering his wedding vows at the rehearsal and is sent outside by the Pastor (Lee) to practice until he knows them. Victor ends up in the dark forest near the Everglots' home where he spends some time muttering his vows to himself. Unbeknownst to him, the Corpse Bride, a young woman who had planned a rendezvous with her fiance before their wedding, but who is killed by the fiance when he arrives, lies buried near where Victor is going over his vows. She overhears the vows and when Victor places the wedding ring on what he thinks is a twig sticking out of the ground, he ends up bringing her out of the grave (the twig being her finger). Thus Victor suddenly finds himself married to another woman, a voluptuous bombshell bride who also happens to be dead and decaying. He finds himself whisked away to the Land of the Dead, where he discovers that living amongst corpses is far brighter than he'd imagined (the Land of the Dead absolutely teems with colour whilst the land of the living was largely monochromatic and dull). Victor finds himself forced to choose between his fiancee and his Corpse Bride, and not wanting either woman to be hurt.

I really enjoyed this movie, it's a lot of fun and has a typically fairy tale ending. I found myself realising that I really must try to borrow and watch Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas from the library.

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