After a disastrous wedding rehearsal, Victor Van Dort wanders in the woods, cursing his clumsiness. Rehearsing his vows, he slides a ring onto a twig sticking out of the ground. Not only is the branch a finger, but this symbolic gesture has summoned back to life the corpse of Emily, a long-dead bride-to-be. As the corpse claims to be his lawfully wedded wife, Victor finds himself caught in a bizarre love triangle on the eve of his wedding to Victoria Everglot.
His journey into the world of the dead is punctuated by musical numbers reminiscent of the most colourful musicals. Through them, Victor will relive the events that have rendered Emily into a corpse bride, and find out how he can help his new bride… to return to his breathing one.
As usual, prepare to be whisked away into a world only Burton is capable of bringing to life. Not only do the dead come to life, but they do so with a little song and dance. With the help of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson, the dead poke fun at arranged wedding and other historical nonsense. Victor and Victoria’s wedding is an attempt from both families to profit from each other’s wealth. However, family has a penny to their name.
Burton creates an interesting contrast between the world of the living and the dead, making the living as pale and morbid as possible through various shades of grey, while the dead are colourful and somewhat more alive than expected. In their world of decadent debauchery filled with alcohol and laughter, the dead teach the living a lesson in fun.
Corpse Bride finds its roots in a folkloric legend based in 19th century Russia, in which Jewish brides were often the target of the anti-Semitism movement and murdered on their way to the wedding chapel.
For his latest flick, Burton used a process called stop-motion animation, a method he used twelve years ago in The Nightmare before Christmas. In order for his characters to come to life, Burton had puppets built from stainless steel armatures covered with silicon skin. Puppets had to be articulated one movement at a time, shot, then re-modeled for the following movement. However tedious this method might seem, the result is nothing short of breath-taking.
This movie was sure to be a hit from the get-go. Once again, Burton has teamed with Depp, his usual partner in crime. Everything the duo touches turns to gold, from Edward Scissorhands to this summer’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Burton also called on his wife, Bonham Carter to be his very own Corpse Bride.
Although some will see this as a children’s movie, make sure you double-check the ratings. It is clearly stated that this movie is not recommended for young children. Not only will youngsters be spooked, but they will not understand the richness of Burton’s work. Others will be delighted with the subtleties of the humour, in this funny and visually delighting movie. At times melancholic, but thoroughly entertaining, Corpse Bride turns out to be a gem of a bittersweet comedy. Running short at 76 minutes, the movie will leave fans screaming for more…which, come to think of it, is not a bad thing.