Spoiled by their upbringing and unaware of what wildlife really is, four animals from the New York Central Zoo escape, unwittingly assisted by four absconding penguins, and find themselves in Madagascar.
Set back in the late 1800s in a Victorian village, a man and woman by the names of Victor Van Dort and Victoria Everglot are betrothed because the Everglots need the money or else they'll be living on the streets and the Van Dorts want to be high in society. But when things go wrong at the wedding rehearsal, Victor goes into the woods to practice his vows. Just as soon as he gets them right, he finds himself married to Emily, the corpse bride. While Victoria waits on the other side, there's a rich newcomer that may take Victor's place. So two brides, one groom, who will Victor pick?Written by
I liked this a lot, and a large part of the reason is that it is pure a Burton film as we are likely to find.
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.
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