The penniless but dustily aristocratic Everglots (Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney) want - need! - their son Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) to marry the crass social climbers' dowry-endowed sweet daughter Victoria (Emily Watson). The shy Victor fumbles his wedding rehearsal and stumbles into the woods to practice, where he accidentally vows to marry a bride who is not only jilted at the altar, but ... deceased (Helena Bonham Crater). Dragged into the world of the dead, Victor tries to get back to Victoria, who is hurriedly married off to Lord Barkis, but the wedding is yet to finish when the world of the living and of the dead briefly collide.
Review by Louise Keller:
Fabulously innovative, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is a complex combo of fantasy and whimsy. The brilliant stop motion animation has Burton's trademark look with characters that are both grotesque and appealing. The notions behind Corpse Bride are downright clever, as we traverse between the dreary land of the living to the enticing land of the dead. The narrative is told through words and song (Gilbert and Sullivan style), eye-boggling visuals and routines that will spark your imagination.
When Johnny Depp's Victor stumbles into the forest to practise the wedding vows he has so badly botched at his wedding rehearsal to Emily Watson's Victoria, he is transported into the world of the dead. And death has never been so much fun. Where Victor's world is dull and bland, conversely the world of the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter) to whom he has accidentally betrothed himself, is a carnival of colour. There are skeletons playing pool, and The Skeleton Band (led by musician Danny Elfman's Bonyjangles) is made up of its bony members who play xylophone on each other's bones, and pluck ribs as string instruments. There are so many special Burton touches, such as the second hand shoppe filled with loose limbs and the remains of the dearly departed dog that is consequently not required to 'play dead'. And then there's the Corpse Bride herself, a compellingly tragic blue figure that is part skeleton, with an hour glass figure, and a tattered wedding gown reminiscent of a delicate and vulnerable blue butterfly.
The fact that the Victor and the Corpse Bride vaguely look a little like Depp and Bonham Carter only adds to the appeal of the characters, and much of humour, like the life/death theme, is dark.
There are two weddings and many lively dead people in Corpse Bride. This is one case in point that death is becoming.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Tim Burton, the king of cinematic whimsy, strikes again combining sweet with deadly dark. You can tell he's having fun because all the scenes that take place in the world of the dead are colourful and full of zest and ... er, life, while the scenes in the world of the living are a life sucking pale blue in tone, and boring. In fact, the first few minutes are so dull I thought I'd die.
As soon as the corpse bride of the title comes alive, as it were, grabbing Victor and us by the arm and wrenching us into the frolics of the afterlife, the playful subversions begin to flow like Beetlejuice.
For all its superficial fun, Burton's film tinkers with serious issues, ranging from the lofty notions of true love and its various forms, to the ever present matters of social class and respectability, honesty and courage. These are lightly traded cards, and Burton's craftsmanship overcomes any weight they might add to the proceedings.
Wonderfully creative in every way, the film really succeeds in capturing our hearts by its very own big heartedness.
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CORPSE BRIDE (PG)
CAST: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Jane Horrocks, Enn Reitel, Deep Roy
PRODUCER: Allison Abbate, Tim Burton
DIRECTOR: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
SCRIPT: John August, Pamela Pettler, Caroline Thompson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pete Kozachik
EDITOR: Jonathan Lucas
MUSIC: Danny Elfman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alex McDowell
RUNNING TIME: 76 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 17, 2005