Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

Corpse Bride

--or "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," to give it its proper title (although, as another critic said, who's else?), is a charming, beautiful, sweet, sentimental and macabre movie. It is a stop-motion animation piece, although made with sophisticated puppets rather than claymation like "Wallace and Gromit," and was voice recorded during the making of Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," with many of the same cast members. Johnny Depp voices Victor Van Dort, an introverted and inexperienced young man who is being shanghaied into an arranged marriage uniting his families fish-mongering fortune with the name of impoverished, sheltered noblewoman, Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). His shyness causes him to fumble the wedding rehersal so disasterously, he flees into the nearbgy forest to collect himself and practice his vows. Thinking it is merely a handlike twig, he puts the wedding ring onto the shriveled finger of the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter) as he recites the vow, which rouses her from the shallow grave where her murderer concealed her body months before. The Bride (she actually has a name, Emily) was lured into the forest by a seducer promising marriage, and then was murdered and robbed of the money she brought to finance the wedding. Since then, she has waited for the promised nuptuals, and is only too willing to have Victor in place of her robber bridegroom. Emily is sweet and not at all vampiric, but nevertheless succeeds in dragging Victor to the Underworld with her, where the two of them work out whether or not a mixed marriage (he unwilling, she willing; he alive, she dead) can work out.

Musical prodigy Danny Elfman provides a score and songs that are very Gilbert-and-Sullivan in tone, very enjoyably so. The one stylistic departure is the song of the Bride's story, sung in jazz style by Elfman (as "Mr. Bonejangles"). --There's just something about dancing skeletons that suggests jazz--.

The puppets are capable of highly nuanced expression--the Bride, especially, expresses wistfulness, frustration, puzzlement, and love as well as the easier expressions of joy, rage and sorrow.

The production is beautifully designed, with the topsy-turvy Oz-like touch that the land of the living is gray and dull, while the Underworld is full of lurid color. This is carried over thematically as well: the Underworld's wedding celebration is raucous and joyful, while that of the living people is mingy and nearly lifeless.

There isn't much mystery about who killed Emily: the small cast and Mr. Bonejangles' shadowplay make that pretty obvious. The real plot concerns whether or not Victoria will succeed in rescuing Victor from Emily's bony clutches when their families think they've both gone mad, or if Victor and Emily can be dead happily ever after, and does work out in surprising fashion with a wonderfully poigniant final scene.

Excellent support from Christoper Lee as Pastor Galswells, Burton stalwart Deep Roy as General Bonesapart, Enn Reitel (channeling Peter Lorre) as Emily's maggot version of Jiminy Cricket, and Paul Whitehouse as the dead's "head waiter," among other roles. Veteran big-name actors Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney came out to voice Victoria's snooty parents, showing that being in a Burton film may be "the thing" to do.

In my opinion, a beautiful movie and an artistic triumph, and has my highest reccomendation. Young children probably will not get the plot, and may be creeped out by scenes such as the one where the Bride's eyeball falls out of her head revealing a toothy talking worm within--.
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