I finally saw Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride last Sunday. I had read the Toronto Star review before I went to see it. It was indeed as good as the review. It was very entertaining, "colourful," and full of humour and sadness, as expected of a Burton film.
In case you’re not familiar with the storyline, based on a Russian folktale, Corpse Bride is about a young man named Victor. His parents, who are fish merchants, have arranged for him to marry a girl named Victoria (Coincidence? I think not!), whose family has a higher social status. During their brief moments together, Victor actually grows fond of Victoria, but he’s so nervous that he keeps making mistakes during their wedding rehearsal. Eventually, he’s kicked out of the church and told to learn his vows before the wedding. He tries to remeber his vows while walking toward the dark forest without knowing it. Finally, he can recite the vows perfectly and he places the ring on a tree branch nearby. But it’s not a regular branch, it’s the finger of a corpse, who emerges in a worn wedding dress and chases after the freightened Victor. Thus, our story begins.
It’s a Tim Burton movie, so you can expect it to be either nearly black-and-white (e.g. Batman) or extremely colourful (e.g. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). In this case, it’s both. What’s interesting is that the land of the dead is much, much more lively, colourful, and fun than "upstairs." Right from the start of the movie, the land of the living is portrayed as a monotonous, mechanical, boring world. On the other hand, everyone and everything in the land of the dead is exciting and energetic. Even the maggot inside the Corpse Bride’s eye has an interesting personality.
Although the film was only about 75 minutes long, we grew to care about the characters. My friend and I wanted Victor to be with the Corpse Bride; my sister wished that Victoria would get her groom back. However, I was a little dissappointed in the length of the movie just because at a couple of points during the movie, I felt that the turning point in the plot was a little sudden and unsettling. Other than that, the story was funny, thrilling and moving.
Now, a couple of notes about the production. This movie was done using the Stop Motion Animation technology, just like The Nightmare before Christmas. I think this is fresh air compared to all the CG animation of late. The characters appear real and believable in the way they act, but they are still very cartoony, in a great way. The character design is so creative and out-of-this-world that you would chuckle just by looking at our "actors" walking and moving around. To me, that’s how an animated film should be. Nearly perfect similation of real people are fine, but it still gives me a feeling that I’m looking at a computer screen. And as smooth as their movements are, due to numerous hours of tweaking with multiple softwares, they still get jerky from time to time.
The movie is also a musical, which I didn’t know before the opening song. That’s a plus because I love musicals. The music was done by the famous Danny Elfman, who had also worked with Mr. Burton many times before. Why did I say "also?" Because of Johnny Deep, of course. This is their 4th collaboration together (2 thumbs up for anyone who can list their pervious works together ). Voices are done nicely. They convey the personalities and emotions of the characters quite effectively.
I can’t reveal the ending of the movie, obviously. I guess it’s kind of perdictable, but that’s not important here. Let’s just say when the movie ends, it left me wanting more. If you’re the kind of person who enjoy animated films, check out Corpse Bride when you get the chance.
NOTE: All photoes © Warner Bros. Pictures