My Thoughts on: Corpse Bride (2005)

I’m fourteen years late to the party, but I’ve finally been able to watch Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, a film I’d seen clips of but never watched all the way through until recently. I’m kind of surprised I put it off this long, because I’ve been a fan of stop-motion animation for years and this film is one of the best examples made in the last 20 years.

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The story revolves around the misadventures of Victor van Dort (Johnny Depp), a shy man who is meant to be marrying Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson) the next day. Except, while practicing his wedding vows in the wood, Victor suddenly finds himself married to an undead bride named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), who is determined to make the marriage stick despite the fact that she’s, well, dead, and he isn’t!

While a lot of Corpse Bride is hysterically funny, particularly some of the sequences in the Land of the Dead, there is much that is deadly serious and, in keeping with Tim Burton’s style, quite dark. For example, Victoria’s parents are clearly terrible people who have no concept of love, not even for their own child. Victor’s parents aren’t much better, they’re far too focused on moving up in society. And then there’s the story of Emily, the titular Corpse Bride. Her story is so sad: a mysterious man convinced her to grab her family fortune and run away with him to elope. All well and good, except he killed her and ran off with the money! Poor Emily died before she really had a chance to live, and it makes me so sad just thinking about it.

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And then there’s Lord Barkis Bittern, quite possibly one of the most despicable villains I’ve ever seen. Just from the way he struts around, you know he’s up to no good, but he’s actually far worse than you think. Once it comes out that he’s the one who killed Emily all those years ago (and he would’ve done the same to Victoria except she doesn’t have any family money), the expectation is that something terrible should happen to him as punishment. And oh boy, does Tim Burton ever deliver. After mistakenly drinking poison while mocking Emily, Bittern ends up dead as a doornail and is dragged off screaming to the Land of the Dead, to a hopefully gruesome fate. I’ve rarely seen a comeuppance more fitting.

Another thing that makes Corpse Bride a lot of fun to watch is the awesome soundtrack provided by Danny Elfman (who has collaborated numerous times with Tim Burton). Elfman also plays Bonejangles, the singing skeleton who tells Victor the story of Emily. And speaking of music, I absolutely love the duet that Victor plays with Emily, not only is it beautiful music, the animation that goes with it is simply flawless.

If you haven’t seen Corpse Bride, it really is worth watching. Even though the film is 14 years old, the stop-motion animation holds up very well, and I’m already looking forward to watching it again.

What do you think of Corpse Bride? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

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