Tim Burton's mind must be a very strange place. Remember, it's where if you commit suicide you have to work for social services in the afterlife (Ref: Beetlejuice). I'm a social worker, so I know what that means! Men with hands made of scissors, Jack Nicholson as Batman's foil...this is one sick puppy of a director.
So when you hear Mr. Burton is directing a film based on an Eastern European folktale in which one of the heroines-the heroines, mind you---is a corpse....well, family fare is not what comes to mind.
And, although it's animated, Corpse Bride definitely is not for the younger set, 9 or so and below. These characters look creepy. The title character has a habit of losing her eye and talking to the maggot, Louie, who lives behind it. Skeletons of dogs and people walk and talk about in the "underworld".
However, like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, older children will find the animations amusing and fascinating; and parents will be pleased with the messages packaged in the film.
Briefly, "Corpse Bride" is an animated operetta in which Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp), son of fishmongers, is engaged to Victoria, (Emily Watson) the daughter of nobles who are now penniless. Neither know each other but meet accidentally and fall in love. When Victor stumbles over his complicated wedding vows at the rehearsal, he's humiliated by a stranger at the wedding (Richard E. Grant) and walks in the woods to practice. When he says the vows, he places the ring on a "twig" that turns out to be the finger of Emily (Helena Bonham-Carter), the Corpse Bride, who of course jumps up and happily informs him they are married. (She's very pretty, by the way, dead or not).
Much of the rest of the movie is taken up by Victor trying to figure out how to get out from the Underworld and by Emily trying to either deny he's doing that or actively convince him to stay. Gradually, however, Victor finds, to his surprise, that he is falling in love with Emily.
In the end the viewers have heard some good lessons about love, and the main characters, primarily Emily and Victor, have each been willing to sacrifice greatly for the other, out of their love for each other. The importance of wedding vows is a central theme, and Victor especially gives long thought to whom his alliances lie, given what he's promised, and to whom. And those motivated by greed, such as Richard Grant's character, mostly come out empty handed.
The comedy is brilliant. In one scene, Emily's friends in the "pub" do a number quite reminiscent of the Star Wars cantina scene, given the odd-looking musicians. I'm not sure how well the "operetta" mode works with animation; while claymation gives these characters terrific means of expression, they are still limited in their ability to emote, and musical theatre may be best left to human faces. Still, Danny Elfman's score is beautiful as always.
Leave the wee ones with the other parent next door at "March of the Penguins" or "Wallace and Gromit: Search for the Were-Rabbit", then huddle with the rest of the kids to see this wonderful film.
Corpse Bride was the first Blu-Ray movie I couldn't wait to see. I had it on DVD and viewed it many times and as I knew the movie inside and out, along with the issues with displaying the SD DVD on my HD TV, I was excited to be able to make a side by side comparison between the 2 releases.
Corpse Bride on Blu-Ray completely blows the other Blu-Ray movies I own out of the water in terms of authoring. The clarity of the image is astounding and the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray is made overly apparent when you can do a comparison of the 2 directly.
In the Blu-Ray release of CB you can see the texture of the puppets' faces, something certainly lacking in the DVD. You can also see in the skeleton dance scene some of the metal bits holding the puppets together. On the DVD you can see it but it is difficult or nearly impossible to tell what the shiny piece is.
As far as the movie, it's a great love story in Tim Burton's typical twisted fashion.
Definitely worth checking out as a movie but also worthy of checking out what Blu-Ray is capable of.
on October 24, 2005
Tim Burton creates a stunning masterpiece that keeps all the parameters typical in his productions. Combining the macabre and childish elements with stop motion animation techniques, Burton gives life to a fantastic story, just as he did in 1993 with the superb Nightmare before Christmas.
The store serves the director as an excuse to build yet another visual fantasy, supported by the voices of several of his favorite actors: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Albert Finney and Christopher Lee.
The ironic and funny style of Burton portraying death repeats itself, forming and obscure and complex world. The principal characters are no other but a dead bride, a colorful number of skeletons, some monsters and a shy and repressed young man.
The plot of The Corpse's Bride is based on a traditional Ukrainian tale about a girl murdered on her weeding day and waiting since then for her true love.
In a Victorian England village lives Victor van Dort, a melancholic young man pressed by his wealthy but uneducated family to engage to a broken but aristocrat young woman named Victoria Everglot, whose parents despise the Van Dorts but want to solve their economical problems with this convenience marriage.
During a wedding rehearsal at the Everglot's house, Victor goes out to practice his vows, and accidentally says the words on a dead bride's tomb, who has been expecting since her dead for her true love to say the words that magically will free her to be happily ever after.
From that point, Victor goes on a journey in the land of the dead with his new bride. Down there everything seems more fun and colorful that "up there", where the world of the living is, on the contrary, almost colorless, with and aesthetic close to whites and blacks, keeping the stiffness and conservative style of the Victorian Ages.
Although the title suggests otherwise, The Corpse's Bride is a sweet and sour love story with a poetic capacity very suggestive and dreamy. True to his provoking spirit, Burton bets on surprising us, letting his usual black humor to disperse over an oppressive atmosphere while the emotional theme of the film, the loss of love, is told like a musical comedy.
When I saw this in the theater I didn't really like the story as much some of Burton's other films but I decided to buy the Blu-ray because I had heard great things about the transfer. I can say I was not disappointed; the picture is simply amazing and I have even come to appreciate the story after watching it a few times at home.
A++ transfer and an A story; a must for any Burton fan.
on January 23, 2006
Tim Burton once again makes us laugh at the folly of our own mortality without managing to insult us. It's lovely to imagine that when we die, there will be a pub we can relax in, and all the aches and pains we exprienced will fade. It's nice to know we'll have nothing to fear...
Corpse Bride captures all these things and more! You wouldn't think so, given the title, however it presents a complex love story, and caused me to think deeply about what life is really about. Any story that can do this, in my book, is a masterpiece.
This film also gives us a scrumptious look into the two worlds through stop-motion animation. It is fantastic! The art has come a long way since Nightmare (though I don't think it's fair to compare the two) and moves very beautifully. The ending is bitter-sweet, as is life, and it moved me to tears.
I went opening night (being the Burton groupy that I am) and there were many like me there. We cheered at the ending and gasped at the plot twists. I do have to say, however, this movie would be a little much for children. It gets very close to the edge of what we are comfortable with: The idea of a man falling for a dead woman, the dead rising up and joining us at dinner, seeing people we've lost after many years in the underworld, etc...
All in all, I thought this was brilliant. See it for yourself and you'll understand. If you're a Tim Burton fan and behold his work with great affection like I do, you'll be taken in by the first few frames of animation.
Corpse Bride is spectacular!
If you've seen other Tim Burton movies then this one will not disappoint. It has the style the humor and the poignancy he's known for. One point -- I didn't expect, can't imagine how I didn't hear, well -- it's a musical. The first time they burst into song I sort of sat there blinking like a caution light.
Short blurb: Parent arrange wedding between poor but aristocratic girl and rich but trade boy. Surprise they like each other when they finally meet. Boy is clumsy at the rehersal. Evil wedding guest of brides parents is cutting in remarks. Boy runs away and practices in the cemetery and end up marrying a corpse. Corpse bride is a nice girl who was jilted by her finance and killed. Boy tries to get to his 'living' bride. Lots of stuff happens and you can guess the end.
The animation is wonderful and filled with lots of little things in the background that just make the movie a treat for the eyes -- of course Corpse Bride is noir but that doesn't mean it doesn't have it's sight gags (the 'head' waiter in the graveyard bar). Dark and creepy with an inner beauty and strong core of love and redemption.
on August 8, 2008
Well people, there are plenty of reviews here to let you know what this is all about; the story, the feel, the emotion, etc., etc. However, most only make a passing remark concerning the "Claymation". Though I have not read all of the reviews here, I have not found one that really makes it clear what an artistic achievement this film really is. "Oh it's a kid's film that's too scary for kids"; is a fairly common criticism. Complaints of its brevity have come from lovers and haters alike. Some criticize the music's lack of "hook". But I have not read the review that exclaims what brilliant art this really is (I apologize to those reviews I may have missed). So, I'm adding one here to ensure that it is not beyond reach so late in the game (300 reviews can be daunting). Let's get on with it...
Many people have made mention of the "making of" featurettes on this DVD. They may have told you what they saw but never explained its significance (or really understood it). In simple terms, this is digital animation. With off-the-shelf software, a good digital camera (still camera) and a decent posable doll, you could do the same thing in your basement. However, what was done hear technically rivals anything done before it. Not even Ray Harryhausen, THE visual FX master that influenced generations of those in the art ever achieved anything of such explicit detail and subtlety. We can marvel at the technical complexity and brilliance of the "puppets" but totally miss why they are complex; expressive motion.
-WHAT MAKES GREAT ANIMATION?
Some mistakenly assume that if the animation is smooth and fluid, then it is good animation; particularly when it comes to stop motion animation. Well, that's partially true. Making something move smoothly certainly helps convince us that it has life. Yet, organic life isn't always smooth or regular; we bounce and stumble and jerk and shake. We have weight and we create momentum and everything else physics brings to bear. The animators in Corpse Bride understood this as much as any Disney animator ever did. I think Ray H. understood this too but never had the technology and backing to ever get this level of detail with Stop Motion Animation. Stop Motion fans adore and appreciate What Ray Harryhausen accomplished, but surely should recognize what's been achieved here. These characters bounce and wiggle and exhibit weight and emotion. Facial ticks and expressiveness only dreamed of in the past are taken for granted in this film simply because it is completely unobtrusive and natural. Yet, we may never see this level of art in stop motion ever again.
-IS SIMPLE BAD?
I think a film that can turn the concept of a man accidentally marrying a corps into a 75 minute story is commendable. This film never seams too short for me. Some stories are as long as they need to be. There is nothing complex about this film other than the emotions of the characters. It's all too clear; the mundane existence of the everyday life is drowned in a sepia grey tints and superficial existence. The enlightened existence of the pain free underworld is lavished in color, friendship and merriment. Despite and because of this, true love will blossom; nothing wrong with that. Simple can be bad if you don't like the concept to begin with. I like dark stories that teach us something about ourselves and this does that in spades.
-"EMOTIONLESS, SHALLOW CHARACTERS."????
Sorry, I read that somewhere here at amazon.com. Well, I obviously could not disagree more. To be fair you can't watch this film once and know all the characters; it's not that easy. Some of the characters are emotionless and shallow by design, so I have to give a sideways nod to that statement, but I don't think the criticisms were aimed at those characters. The first time I saw this at the theater I was very conflicted. I criticized many of the same things others did. I didn't get the characters. It had a strange mood to it. The music was completely unexpected. But a good film proves itself in repeat viewings. After a couple of viewings, I felt that I knew all the characters personally. I thought all the voice actors proved perfect. I actually enjoy the songs now. Perhaps this film isn't as simple as people say?
This is a fairly simple concept which is complex in its subtlties and may not satisfy everyone. The music takes getting used to but can grow on you. If you don't like dark fables told in animated films you should avoid this. If you don't give a care for animation one way or the other then you probably won't think much of this. If you are a fan of Stop Motion Animation then you really need to see this; if for no other reason than to appreciate the artistic and technical achievement, it will have been worth it. The DVD has ample extras and a beautiful picture. This film is one that grows in depth and enjoyment every time I watch it. As a fan of Stop Motion Animation I now revel in it.
on April 19, 2006
Corpse Bride was great, just like I thought it would be. In fact, it was exactly as I expected it to be -- which is good and bad.
I like Tim Burton and I like Johnny Depp, but I'm getting a little tired of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, together forever, true love always, etc. This time we have a Johnny Depp puppet. He is great, don't get me wrong, and I deeply understand the fixation, but... enough already. Note to Johnny Depp: More Finding Neverlands. More Pirates. Fewer deranged chocolate magnates. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a magnificent disaster.
Corpse Bride is neither a disaster nor a mess. In fact, it is lovely and charming, in exactly the way you would expect it to be -- no more and no less. The soundtrack is spot on, the visuals are haunting and exquisite, and the storyline is sweet. It did not blow me into next week like Nightmare Before Christmas did. However, this time I felt like I was in familiar territory, and when I saw "Nightmare" for the first time, I'd never seen anything like that before. Maybe if I'd seen this one first, I would have felt the same about it.
As for the love triangle between Emily Watson, Helena Boneham Carter, and Johnny Depp, I was definitely rooting for the Corpse Bride to win. The ending was tidy. The whole movie, in fact, was a little tidy. After the "Ahhhh cool!" moment of seeing how the real world was faded and the afterworld was saturated with color, I didn't see anything else in the movie to really charm me, apart from the usual Burton visuals.
I think that with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Burton just lifted the bar so high that even he has trouble climbing over it any more. The one thing that did completely enthrall me was the fact that this is stop-motion animation. At the beginning of the film, I said to my husband, "It almost looks like stop-motion animation, but it couldn't possibly be. They must have used computers to kind of simulate it, for nostalgia purposes." No, it is really the genuine article. Which is stunning and beautiful. If you watch the "making of" featurette on the DVD, your teeth will fall out of your head with admiration for the effort that goes into this stuff. It is truly amazing.
on August 18, 2007
This Blu-Ray version is much better than the dvd. The clarity is SUPERB. It really doesn't do it justice to try to describe it. It's like trying to compare a steak to a hamburger. You just gotta watch it. By the way, I especially liked the behind-the-scenes making of the movie and seeing the clay puppets being put together frame by frame.
on December 11, 2005
Being a fan of Tim Burton's movies, I knew I had to watch "Corpse Bride" sooner or later. I finally decided to see this film, and was not disappointed one bit.
The story starts off with Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp), a young man who is engaged to Victoria Everglot (voiced by Emily Watson). During their wedding rehearsal, Victor forgets his vows, drops the ring, and sets Mrs. Everglot's (Victoria's mother) dress on fire. He is ordered to practice harder if he wants to get married to Victoria. After the rehearsal, he walks through the forest to practice on his speech. He does it perfectly, and puts the ring on a twig on the ground. However, this twig turns out to be the hand of a corpse bride (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter), and since he said his vows and placed the ring on her finger, he is now married to her. She takes him to the underworld, where he must reside forever. At first, he tries his best to leave and go back to his own world, but once he learns about the history of the corpse bride, and spends time with her, he starts to develop feelings for her. Unfortunately, he also finds out that Victoria is engaged to marry Lord Barkis (voiced by Richard E. Grant), an evil and greedy man, and now Victor must decide who he loves and wants to spend his life with.
The movie starts off a little slowly, but quickly develops once Victor finds himself in the complicated situation. Director Tim Burton once again dazzles us with a wonderful movie filled with fantasy, comedy and adventure. I don't know how well it is compared to "Nightmare before Christmas" because I haven't seen that yet, but I think the animation in this movie was terrific! Of course, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter did a fantastic job in providing their voices for the characters, as did the rest of the cast. The songs were delightful and added well to the movie.
All in all, "Corpse Bride" was a wonderful movie which I would definitely watch more than once.