Thursday Night Movie Club
Corpse Bride
star rating graphicstar rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: September 23, 2005

Director: Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
Johnny Depp
Helena Bonham Carter
Emily Watson
Tracey Ullman
Paul Whitehouse
Paul Whitehouse
Paul Whitehouse
Joanna Lumley
Albert Finney
Richard E. Grant
Christopher Lee
Michael Gough
Jane Horrocks
Enn Reitel
Deep Roy
Danny Elfman
Stephen Ballantyne
Victor Van Dort
Corpse Bride
Victoria Everglot
Nell Van Dort/Hildegarde
William Van Dort
Paul The Head Waiter
Maudeline Everglot
Finnis Everglot
Barkis Bittern
Pastor Galswells
Elder Gutknecht
Black Widow Spider/Mrs. Plum
Maggot/Town Crier
General Bonesapart
Corpse Bride poster
Victor Van Dort and Victoria EverglotTim Burton returns to the land of stop-motion puppetry with Corpse Bride and once again creates a most wonderful yet bizarre world full of wonderful characters. Corpse Bride is not as outright funny as The Nightmare Before Christmas but it is a more emotional effort. Present here is the full range of emotions, from sadness to pure joy and just about every where in between.

Johnny Depp voices the main character, Victor Van Dort, a young man pressed into a pre-arranged marriage through his parents and the Everglot family. Victor is saddened by the fact that he is about to be married to a young woman that he has never met. His hopes of finding his true love are rapidly diminishing.

Both families are marrying off their children for the wrong reasons, money. Each family has been hit by hard times and so they arrange this marriage in a vain attempt to keep their miserable lives intact. There is no love lost between the parents of both spouses.

When the families meet for the wedding rehearsal, Victor finally meets his betrothed, Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). Is it a coincidence that their first names are so similar? Victoria is feeling the same emotions as Victor, not wanting to marry a complete stranger. But an amazing thing happens, the young couple meet without an adult chaperone and find there is a spark forming between them. They both realize that this might not be such a bad arrangement after all.

Photo of Victor and the Corpse BrideAt the rehearsal, Victor's nerves continually get the better of him. He flubs his lines. The exasperated town priest, Pastor Galswells, (Christopher Lee) finally announces a postponement until Victor can get it right. A disheartened Victor runs off to the woods to practice his wedding vows. Reaching for what he thinks is a branch buried in the snow and placing the wedding ring on the the limb, Victor finally gets his vows right. Confusion erupts when the branch turns out to be the hand of the Corpse Bride who immediately awakens and accepts Victor's proposal. Poor Victor was probably wondering how his simple life could get any more complicated.

Jack faints and awakens in the Land of the Dead where the wedding vows can be performed properly. The ensuing musical number by the occupants of the local bar is the highlight of the movie. It is wonderfully silly and enthralling.

But all is not well in "Loveville". Victor is not very enthusiastic about marrying a corpse, while the Corpse Bride is ecstatic that she will finally get married. She has some obvious history regarding her marriage while she was alive. Meanwhile, Victoria isn't faring any better. Fearing that their pre-arranged marriage will fall apart, the Everglots decide to marry Victoria to the extremely charming and rich Barkis Bittern (played over the top by Richard E. Grant).

Thus, the movie's theme is revealed. This is a story of love and obligation. Victor's stifling world gets turned on its ear that he acts more dead than the dearly departed who are having a riot in the afterlife. All, that is, except for Corpse Bride who desperately wants to be married. Her immediate joy once again turns to despair as Victor spurns her every attempt at kindness and love. Victor slowly begins to believe he may find happiness and love with her, but she begins to spurn his advances while they are both seated at a piano.

Corpse Bride is a visual treat from the get go. The lighting is unbelievably well planned. When we first meet Victor, he is filmed in blue light, a walking corpse himself. Unemotional at best. But Victor is suddenly shot in warm colors once he meets Corpse Bride, while she is now filmed in the blue light of death.

The voice talents shine all around. Once again, Danny Elfman gets to go off the deep end with the sound track and the wildly entertaining vocal/dance numbers.

Photo of Victor Van Dort and Corpse BrideWhen Victor learns of Victoria's upcoming wedding, he finally decides to finish what he got himself into. He will marry Corpse Bride. But yet another wonderful conflict arises that leads to the final resolution. Since Victor is still alive, the wedding must take place in the land of the living and he must drink a poison to cement the marriage. When the rest of the dead tag along for the wedding, a potentially frightening situation develops. Corpses are now walking among the living. In a truly emotional scene, instead of fleeing in terror, loved ones are once again reunited. It's a very touching scene.

All classic movies are cyclical in their writing and this is no exception. Questions about Corpse Bride's history are answered. In the end, everyone gets their just desserts!

Corpse Bride is an amazing, original movie where Tim Burton's talens really shine. As with other Hollywood remakes, Batman and Planet of the Apes, that Burton has made, those movies were all about the look and no substance underneath. Corpse Bride is loaded with emotion, humor and a visual masterpiece. Enjoy! Meanwhile, I will anxiously await Tim Burton's next original movie. I hope he continues to make these animated films.