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Friday Film Review: Corpse Bride

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005)
Genre: Stop Action Animation
Grade: B-

Though Corpse Bride doesn’t live up to the wonder that is “Nightmare Before Christmas,” it still has oodles to recommend it. Fantastic puppets, painstaking animation and the voices of some acting greats to bring these creations “to life” (even if some of them are supposed to be dead!).

Victor Van Dort, the son of nouveau riche fish mongers, is to wed Victoria Everglot, the daughter of nouveau poor landed aristocracy. The Van Dorts are overjoyed to be moving up in society. The Everglots are resigned but looking forward to the money the marriage will bring. The bride and groom are hopeful they will like each other and hesitantly pleased when they do. But a horrific rehearsal sends Victor fleeing to the woods where he somehow finds himself married. To a corpse. Emily has been waiting for someone to marry ever since her dastardly fiance killed her instead of eloping with her and she has no intention of letting Victor out of their marriage regardless of the fact that she’s dead and he’s not. But when he’s unexpectedly given a choice in the matter, will Victor stay or will Emily have a change of heart – even if hers isn’t beating anymore?

Watching the movie, I’m always in awe of just how much time, talent and inventiveness it takes to bring one of these movies from an idea to a finished product. In the extras for the film, I think I heard this one took 10 years and I fully believe it. The detail is astounding and the problems which were overcome are ones I couldn’t even begin to list. The final result is something everyone involved should be proud of.

The voices behind the characters are perfect and include Johnny Depp, Emily Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, Richard E Grant, Jane Horrocks and Paul Whitehouse. They bring their (sometimes multiple) characters to life, giving them emotions and feelings which the animators then mimicked with the puppets. The story is inventive and uses the Victorian morbid fascination with death. Was there ever an era more in love with death?

Sadly, the musical numbers are just okay with some being better than others (“According to Plan” and “Remains of the Day” are my favorites). Notice that the scenes set among the living use drab gray and dark blue while the underworld is more alive with color. If death is like this, I can understand why people are “dying to get down here.”

The subject matter is heavy for children though I think they’d enjoy the dancing skeletons and Scraps, Victor’s dead dog with whom he’s reunited. The villain gets his due in a delicious way, true love is rewarded and I believe almost everyone will discover sympathy for poor Emily though I would have enjoyed seeing her find her special dead someone. B-


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Lexxie Couper
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 05:53:50

    My family watched this the night after the recent royal wedding of Wills and Kate. My three and a half year old (aka The Demon Princess) stated loudly and clearly she liked the “dead lady wedding” the best.

    Not as brilliant and memorable as A Nightmare Before Christmas to be sure, but infinitely better than most movies made for children these days (I’m looking at you, Yogi Bear). And seriously in my opinion, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp together equals awesomeness, even if only mild awesomeness in this case (my fav Burton/Depp film is still Sleepy Hollow…but not so much a kids film so I’m waiting a few years before introducing it to my girls *grin*)

  2. Jayne
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 06:45:50

    @Lexxie Couper: Well, I certainly agree with your daughter’s taste. The “dead lady” wedding was certainly livelier what with a singing and dancing cast!

  3. Darlene Marshall
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 07:35:47

    This is a sweet little film, but I agree that it may be too intense for young children.

    “Victorian obsession with death” reminds me of the “Friends” episode where Joey has to read Little Women and they don’t want to tell him what happens to Beth.[g]

  4. Jayne
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 19:01:07

    @Darlene Marshall: Talking about too instense – Coraline is a film I found disturbing.

  5. Keishon
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 17:05:25

    @Jayne: Coraline as disturbing…I don’t think I’ve heard that one before. I never watched the film version but did read the book and thought it was good.

  6. Jayne
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 09:11:20

    @Keishon: I’ve never read the book but the Other Mother character and the button eyes sewing stuff was creepy.

  7. Jessica
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 16:19:46

    Coraline was meant to be creepy and it probably says something about me that I Loved Coraline. I wish i had seen it in 3D.

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