Corpse Bride (2005)
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I had been afraid this was going to be too reminiscent of 'Nightmare Before Christmas', but it was delightfully original. That is potentially what I enjoyed most about the movie. It's quite an original story.
I commend Burton and all those who worked on this movie. I really enjoy watching the animation, and the characters are all very well developed. It's so good in fact, that I can't imagine this movie being done with real actors.
The songs in this movie are good and enjoyable. I don't enjoy them as much as I did 'Nightmare's', but they do justice.
The voice work in this movie is great. Depp(whose praise I'm not sure will ever stop) did excellent work. I don't think I would've known it was him, that is if I hadn't already. Albert Finney is great, and it's so nice to hear Michael Gough.
My only criticism of this movie is they don't always take enough time. It starts off wonderfully with the wedding rehearsal, introducing us to the characters and the situation. Then Victor takes ends up "running into" the corpse bride, goes to the "underworld", and the whole thing is explained with a song. I was left wanting more when it came to the corpse bride and the underworld. Then the movie continues at a nice level, just that one part left me wanting more.
It's a good movie. If you want to see it you shan't be disappointed. If you don't want to see it, it might be a pleasant surprise.
Victor and his parents meet Victoria and her family to attend a wedding rehearsal. Unbeknownst to Victor's family, it seems Victoria's parents are broke and desperately need the marriage to secure their future. Yet, marriage is new to the nervous Victor, and when he gets jittery at the church, he runs off and into the woods to collect his thoughts. There, he jokingly recites his wedding vows and slips his wedding band on a finger shaped piece of what appears to be wood. The next thing he knows, the wooden finger is a real finger belonging to a former bride, and she has sprung 'alive' to his offer of marriage. As Victor reels in horror and confusion at his 'corpse bride', he is whisked away to another world of people who have died. While the corpse bride is partly decomposed, she retains much of her former beauty. Yet others in this strange land are mere skeletons and rotted flesh. It turns out that the corpse bride was to be married, but her groom had evil plans for her. She has been waiting for her true love ever since her demise. Meanwhile, Victoria's parents are approached by a mysterious, handsome suitor who wants to marry Victoria. Victor must make a fateful decision and choose between the two brides even as the dead descend on the land of the living for a wedding ceremony like none other. One groom and two brides-what to do? This is Tim Burton's latest foray into stop motion animation, and he and Mike Johnson direct with economy from a relatively simple screenplay by John August, Pamela Pettler, and Caroline Thompson. The characters, especially Victor and the corpse bride, are well etched and create an emotional bond with the audience. Although we want Victor to marry his love Victoria, we grow to feel sympathy and attachment to the corpse bride as well. As for the images of the dead, Burton and company do a delightful job of making what, on the outset, could be grotesque and turning them into energized, playful souls. There is a terrific Peter Lorre homage with a worm who keeps popping in and out of the bride's eye socket. After a short time, the skeletal limbs and discolored dead no longer seem frightening or gross. Ironically the most colorful sequences involve the world of the dead while the living are painted in austere, lifeless mutes of gray.
Much of the production team are veterans of other Burton films. Longtime collaborator Danny Elfman again provides an atmospheric score and a handful of nifty, little songs to move things along. Even the voices of the principals are Burton alumni, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (Burton's significant other). Give Depp credit for voicing a British sounding character convincingly while others like Emily Watson, Albert Finney, Christopher Lee and Tracey Ullman, to name a few, are quite effective at bringing their figures to life. It's a testament to Burton's imaginative appeal that twice the usual number of major acting talents contributed to this work.
For all those who loved Burton's earlier produced efforts, The Nightmare Before Christmas (whose ghoulish nature is quite similar) and James and the Giant Peach, this is a worthy followup. The animation itself is virtually seamless, and the characters and figures move as in real life. It is a far cry from the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials of the 1960's. The set designs and costumes are very much Gothic in style. It seems that Burton is drawing from his own films or is perpetuating his influences as evidenced in his previous films like Beetlejuice, Batman, and Edward Scissorhands particularly in his obsession with the good and evil in man. It also delves into the perception of life versus death. Who is really alive and who acts like the nonliving? It is evident that the true antecedent of The Corpse Bride is Burton's own version of Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow with a nod toward Dickens (with its contrast in class distinction and its unsavory characters), especially the Miss Havisham character in Great Expectations.
The Corpse Bride marks a continuing peak in the current revival of animated feature films which was signaled by Toy Story a decade earlier and has been raised to new heights with such recent triumphs as Shrek and Finding Nemo. The final shot is a wondrous, memorable end that recalls the transformation scene in Disney's classic, Beauty and the Beast. In fact, so good is its animation and technique that it is easy to forgive any shortcomings in what is basically a one act, one note story albeit told with sincerity. With just a bit more pathos and storyline, Burton's team would have had an instant classic. It's a near miss, but its status as the best animated film of the year is secure.
Overall, throughout my viewing of the film, I was in awe, gales of laughter, near tears, or just plain excited! Tim Burton has done it again.
Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter were fabulous voices,the music and songs were just right for the mood,and the story was actually quite different from The Nightmare before Christmas.Altogether it made an enjoyable,clever and funny movie,that I think you will want to see over and over again.Take your friends.Family or relatives to see this classic movie.Trust me you will NOT be disappointed.Or at least I wasn't disappointed
Presenting subjects which are typically dark and frightening and show them in a positive light has long been a trademark of Tim Burton. In the director's latest film, "Corpse Bride", Burton spins death and murder into a charming musical about the power of love. Burton applies the same technique as with his last stop-motion picture, "The Nightmare Before Christmas, but with a more fluid and smoother effect. Lead by the vocal talents of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, "Corpse Bride" is a terrific achievement of film-making.
On the day of their wedding rehearsal, arranged lovers Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria (Emily Watson) run into a complication with the ceremony: Victor cannot remember his vows. While practicing in the forest, Victor mistakenly places the ring on the finger of a dead woman (Helena Bonham Carter) and is immediately married to his new bride, Emily. While Victor searches for a way out of the underworld and back to Victoria, he learns of the devious plot of how Emily was murdered and experiences the beauty and charm that still resides in her. Victor must decide whom he loves more: his bride-to-be or his corpse bride.
Tim Burton and Mike Johnson create a contrasting yet complementing world. The background and setting for the living is dark and cloudy. This is matched by the dark clothing, mundane lifestyle, and pale complexion of the citizens. Characters who are more full of life and color occupy the underworld, a location that is supposed to be bleak and gloomy. The stop-motion animation style is accomplishedly used to bring these objects to life. They never fail to capture emotion nor are they afraid to be as outrageous as they can with the characters' design and movements. This is best illustrated when the directors capture an elaborate song and dance number detailing Emily's demise.
The screenplay penned by John August, Pamela Pettler, and Caroline Thompson feels targeted for younger members of the PG audience. There are many puns is regards to death, e.g., "dead right", and the end is predictable thanks in part to an obvious foreshadowing detail. But that is not to say the film is a failure. The writers do a great job with tackling the morbid topic of death and turning it into a love story.
Whenever there is a Tim Burton film, Johnny Depp will usually be leading the charge. "Corpse Bride" is one of those instances. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter lead a talented cast of actors in providing the vocals to their characters. Depp gives Victor the frightened, insecure persona that befits the young man who is unsure of just about everything in life. Emily Watson does the perfect counterpart for Victoria. She is more confidant and less shy than her groom-to-be and she brings out the more attractive qualities of Victor. Carter provides Emily with a loving and caring demeanor. She genuinely cares for and loves Victor and she will do anything to make him see that. Even more skillful is her ability to bring out Emily's sadness. Audiences will feel her pain when she cries and the emptiness she feels when all she needs is love. The supporting actors are also expertly cast including Christopher Lee, Albert Finney, and Michael Gough. Each performer's voice brings out the ideal quality and trait of their character that one can imagine them performing the role in the flesh.
The title of "Corpse Bride" almost gives the wrong impression about the film. The movie is a love story albeit with a darkened twist. It is not meant to be frightening but rather it shows a peaceful and romantic co-existence between the living and the dead. Audiences will be fascinated with the seamless quality of the animation and the vocal talents that give the characters life. For "Corpse Bride", the honeymoon is about to begin.
CORPSE BRIDE Starring: Johnny Depp, Helen Bonham Carter, Emily Watson
Honeymoon for "Corpse Bride" 8/16/05 (released 8/23/05)
*** MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW *** *** YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!! ***
Now that you know that I loved the music, I will say that I really liked the movie. I found the plot a bit weak but still quite enjoyable. While we, as the audience, are supposed to empathize with Victor's dilemma at having to choose between Victoria and the Corpse Bride, to me it lessens Victors character because it shows him as being wishy-washy and even a bit of a jerk. I just wished he were given a little more backbone. At the end of the movie, when the Corpse Bride makes her metamorphosis (quite beautifully I might add), the trouble is that there is no apparent vehicle for this change. While it doesn't ruin the movie, it kind of leaves me hanging wondering "What just happened?" For example, I would think that the maggot, who is resident in the Corpse Bride's eye, could have been revealed to really be a caterpillar and from there you have the vehicle for the change. I really liked the pre-wedding celebration in the underworld. This joyous part of the movie was probably the most difficult to compose and shoot what with all the motion. The music at some points in the celebration reminded me of Walt Disney's "Cinderella" when the mice were making Cinderella's dress. It is only one of two places (that I remember) where Danny Elfman's score shifts to major key, instead of the traditional minor key in Burton/Elfman collaborations.
*** END OF SPOILERS ***
The stop-motion animation is exquisite. For example, the movement of cloth (including veils) was amazing. In the attention-to-detail arena, there is a skeleton dog in the underworld whose movements were so good I thought I was looking at a real one. It still amazes me how you can make a stop-motion production that includes the numerous combinations of pans and zooms that this movie had. I can only imagine the agony there must have been trying to shoot it, not to mention re-shoots. If you read the TRIVIA section, you will notice that "...it took the animators 28 separate shots to make the bride blink." Many other, less patient or less funded, animators would have settled for 8 separate shots.
Now, as for rating the movie, it was more difficult for me than I expected it would be. In the end I give the movie 9 stars. But I will say that without Danny Elfman's score, I would have rated "The Corpse Bride" at 8 stars. To those in IMDb-land who have made comparisons between Elfman and Richard Rogers, I am beginning to believe you're absolutely right.
And when I say Burton, I mean that oddly successful collaboration between him and Elfman colored by commercial realities.
The big picture is that there are very few filmmakers with the skills and courage to be unique, to make movies that only they could. This goes beyond style into the nature of the soul.
If you do not have an interesting soul, you cannot be an artist. If you do not have the courage and ability to reveal that soul in some way to us, you cannot either. So hurrahs for the few in the world of film that do.
In a way, this film is a notion expanded around Ub Iwerks' (yes, that's a real name) "Skeleton Dance" done for Disney and quoted in a couple more hip Betty Boop cartoons. In another way, it is a simple date movie: boy gets girl, boy loses girl by misunderstanding, boy gets girl back and the thing ends in a wedding.
And also in a way, it is a love poem to his girl friend. I'm fascinated by these things, where a talented director (usually a man) can shape the image of the woman he loves. Films DO influence how we think of love, but this is more genuine and powerful than any of them, this real love that shines through purely cinematic means. Just think about casting the woman you love as a corpse! She is as alluring here as she has even been.
But beyond that is something that is more lasting, the business between Depp and Burton. Johnny is a fine actor, but many fine actors don't get the opportunity to explore new and unknown corners of darkness. He has and is better off for it. And so are we, though whenever this happens we end up with a new character template that inevitably becomes a stereotype. Depp already mines that stereotype in his Pirate movies.
But what concerns us here is how Burton/Elfman deepens what he has with Depp. He introduces the character as a pianist, and does so with a piano piece. That piece is a skillful blend of Chopin and pop, but more on the Chopin side. For many, Chopin is the most nakedly emotional yet dark soul they will encounter. No humor, only intimacy and passion.
So two clever things were done with this. The first is that the Depp persona (though an animated avatar here) was made deeper by reference to our deepest pianist. The second is that a few musical scenes and effects are set up, all of which reference the scene in some way. There's a sweet musical duet with Helena where they do fall in love. There may be few things more lovely than making love via music played to each other -- with each other.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
In short, even though all of the characters in "The Nightmare Before Christmas" are dead, they just seem more alive and motivated than the characters in this film. Also, this movie is darker than "Nightmare" and not as funny, so kids under 10 might find it too intense and probably not as interesting. Thus, although it is worthwhile viewing, I'm just afraid that Tim Burton set the bar too high with his previous animated film.
Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) is a milquetoast. A bumbling, unlucky dreamer. To make things worse, his parents (multi-talented Paul Whitehouse and Tracey Ullman) are forcing him into the classic "arranged marriage", which is more like a contract with the cash-strapped but aristocratic Everglots (Albert Finney & Joanna Lumley). Things turn around, however, when he meets his intended, Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson) who is actually very attractive, inside and out.
The ceremony is as arranged as the marriage, unfortunately, and the frustrated minister (Christopher Lee) demands that Victor take time out to PRACTICE HIS VOWS. This too, is awkward, as in the midst of his rehearsal, Victor places a ring upon a corpse's poking finger (just the place to rehearse a wedding, a cemetery) thus rousing the title character (Helena Bonham Carter), who leads Victor on a voyage through life and death and an unwitting quest to figure out what he really wants.
Exquisite, yes, and enjoyable, but not without a few flaws. Most of the songs, while well written, feel out of place, and potentially powerful villain, Barkis Bittern (post-Doctor Who Richard E. Grant) doesn't seem to be allowed to do enough. But the good far outweighs the bad--moviegoers who get past the title will find a light-hearted romp that is rife with parody and spoof, from the Harryhausen brand piano to the diminutive character Bonesapart (played by the diminutive Deep Roy). A cameo by Jack Skellington would have been cool (O.K., Disney) but Danny Elfman's Bonejangles does pull off an eye-popping number. Even the unsettling, Peter-Lorre-channeling maggot residing in the Bride's skull threatens to steal the show. Good cast (with many Burton stalwarts, incidentally), with the philosophy that less is more make for a good time.
Like it or not, it is well-worth noting that this film delivers many firsts to film-making, including new-style digital camera-work on refined stop-motion. To animators and film students, this offering comes highly recommended.
The story starts off slowly, but once the characters went down under into the land of the dead, not only did we finally start seeing some colors other than blue, but the whole film came alive and pretty much stayed that way until the end.
As with good animated movies, there is so much you can see that you can't take it all in. It's a feast for the eyes with all the wild-looking characters and nice drawings. Getting good visuals from director Tim Burton is no surprise; he always comes through in that department. Unfortunately, he also usually delivers an anti-religious cheap shot or two.. Here, the minister is pictured as a sour old guy. Burton also pictures clerics in a negative way, and the occult in a positive way. However, he certainly makes interesting films, no matter what the subject matter, and there usually isn't a lot of profanity in his films. There is none here whatsoever.
Overall, an inventive film and fun to watch once you get past the slow first part.
Utterly wonderful, pure Burton, with all trademarks - dog, snow, favourite actors, oblique references to earlier Burton films. Like Nightmare? Only in the sense that it's easily identifiable as a Burton Stop motion movie! The cast were perfect; is it my imagination, or do some of the characters vaguely resemble their actors faces (NOT Ms's Lumley, Horrocks or Ullman - but that chin on Barkis Bittern....) Danny Elfman again proved that he can translate Burton's concepts into music. We came out singing the songs.
Beautiful, bittersweet ending...as the lights came up, I was wiping away a tear. Like all TB films, though, the more you know of him and his films, the more you'll enjoy it. Can't wait to see it again!
Victor (Depp) is victim of an arranged marriage to Victoria Everglot (the very charming and strong Emily Watson) of the noble, but bankrupt Everglot family. The Van Dorts are the nouveau rich, in search of title. Hence this marriage fulfills title and wealth. Win. Win. You would think. During the rehearsal a suspicious relative Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant) arrives a day early. Even his name is unsavory. Although Victor accidentally finds his soul mate in Victoria, he can not bring himself to follow through with the rehearsal. He flees to the forest. There he professes his vows to his true love, and the Corpse Bride (Bonham Carter) accepts. They leave for the world of the deadthe catch being that Victor still has a heart beat. Victor's stay is both hysterical and just plain weird.
"Corpse Bride" does telegraph a plot point prematurely, but overall the story has a charming and touching twist. Credit its amazing voice actor talents. Johnny Depp gives Victor an innocence and strength of character that is never frivolous. Emily Watson threads the fine line as the "other woman". She gives Victoria great compassion and heart. This is really Helena Bonham Carter's showcase. As she voices the Corpse Bride she is initially unaffected, not realizing her fate. Then there is a visceral sadness when she comes to terms that she must go without love. She poignantly says, "My dreams were taken from me." So does she now take this away from someone she now loves? This really makes "Corpse Bride" a funny, inspired, and special movie. This is Tim Burton's best work. See "Corpse Bride".
All in all, this movie is a 10!! I am going to be seeing it MANY more times before it is let out of theaters. HIGHLEY recommended!! As always, Mr. Burton has NOT let us, his lowly Fanboys down! ;)
There are cute messages in the movie, but I think that little kids would be kind of frightened with some scenes in it. Ps: I think that Vitor, the main character , looks a lot with Edward Scissorshands! Only coincidence?
The story's a little bizarre, a little morbid, but hey, it's Burton on familiar grounds. The Von Dorts and the Everglots have agreed to an arrange marriage between their children Victor (Depp) and Victoria (Emily Watson), but Victor, fumbling the marriage rehearsals, runs away to seek solace, and accidentally unleashes the Corpse Bride Emily (Helena Bonham Carter, giving the character an impeccable Brit accent). So begins a crazy love triangle of sorts, involving characters from both the realm of the living and the dead.
Surprisingly, Burton managed to squeeze a couple of subplots into this relatively short film, and touched on themes like arranged marriages, what's in it for both families (The Von Dorts are the newly rich, wanting to add prestige to their family name, while the Everglots are bona-fide aristocrats who've gone bust, and need the dough to continue their lifestyle and save face). Different facades of love are exhibited between Victoria-Victor-Emily, one which is the more conventional (and maybe improbable?) "love-at-first-sight", while the other, growing to love a person (though it happened within 24hrs, so what?) You might be able to guess the ending and the relations between some of the characters mid-way through the movie, though some might prefer an alternative ending. If you're acquainted with Burton's works, it's typical of him and his style, so you'll see it coming the way it was, as per his dark visions.
The art and characters are very NBC-like too, with their small heads and extremely long limbs. Stop-motion is difficult to do, and watching it in a digital format brings out the crispness of the figurines. Burton loads the film with many supporting characters, each with its own zany behaviour, and some even spoofing characters from movie classics. Somehow Christopher Lee's Pastor Galswells suffered from LOTR's shadow and always reminded me of Saruman, though I think the reference was unintentional.
And what's an animated flick without humour? Corpse Bride has tons of references, and both physical and dry humour to satisfy both camps. The music's also top-notch, but what can you less expect from another long time Burton partner Danny Elfman? Though you can hear shades of Batman in the instrumentals, the songs and lyrics are really a class of their own, bringing this musical to life, just like what Elfman managed to do for NBC.
Highly recommended, even if it means forking out S$9.50 on a weekend for a less than 80 minutes show. I can't wait for another dark stop-motion animated movie from Burton. Bring it on I'd say!
This is not a little kids movie, I would say, unless your kid is about nine or ten, you should think twice about taking him or her to see this movie, you may just want to rent the classic "Nightmare Before Christmas" and see how they fare on that.
However, to me, the downside was that it was slightly rushed and short, and could have used more songs. Be warned, some of you may need a tissue at the wonderfully done (but still, very sad to me) end.
Overall, I know when "Corpse Bride" comes out on DVD, I'll be one of the first to buy it.
I really, really wanted to love this movie.
As far as the visual direction goes, I was not disappointed! The set design is beautiful, the puppets are beautiful, and the animation is incredible! The directing and editing is terrific. If I must compare this movie to Nightmare Before Christmas, I admit Corpse Bride was, at least, much more visually stunning.
The story, however, is a disappointment. The visual storytelling and the voice acting is good, but the actual plot and script leaves much to be desired. The first musical number was a good introduction to the setting and plot, but the others seemed like wasted opportunities to get to know the characters better. The subplot with the villain seems to just get in the way of telling an interesting story. Overall, there was a lack of motivation and character development in the main characters.
At the end of the movie, Victor and Victoria haven't changed at all. You get the idea they're both still just following their parents wishes. The ending is confusing as Victor and Victoria haven't really gotten to know each other at all. --and you never really learn if Emily loved Victor or just the idea of getting married. I'd have liked to see the characters evolve. Especially Victor. I'd have liked to see him do something because HE decided to, not because someone else told him to or made him feel guilty.
As a Burton fan, it was a big relief to see that while he was the director, he was NOT the writer. Watch this movie for the visuals if you're an animation fan, but don't expect much else (besides selling a lot of toys at Hot Topic).