Tim Burton's Corpse Bride


Directed by: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
Written by:John August, Pamela Pettler, Caroline Thompson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Christopher Lee, Tracey Ullman
Released: November 17, 2005
Grade: A-

It is a happy day for the Van Dort family.  They have arranged for their only son, Victor (Depp) to marry the only daughter of the supposedly wealthy Everglot family.  It is a not so happy day for the Everglots.  They are now penniless and are seeing their daughter, Victoria (Watson), marry the son of a fish merchant.

After a botched wedding rehersal, Victor starts to worry about himself and whether he’s worthy of the beautiful Victoria.  On the night before he is to be wed, he goes out into the woods to rehearse his vows.  Finally he perfects them but when he places the wedding ring on a think stick protruding from the ground, his life will change.  It wasn’t a stick after all – but the finger of a skeleton who now rises from the ground.  He has married a corpse (Bonham Carter).

Taken downstairs into the world of the dead, Victor finds himself falling in love with this corpse bride.  She’s sweet, charming and has a humorous group of deceased friends.  They soon learn though that their marriage was not legitimate.  How can one pledge to be together “to death do us part” when one is already dead?  The only way they can be truly together is if Victor too takes his life.  Is this a sacrifice he is prepared to make?

Tim Burton (Ed Wood, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish) is a renowned director but few may know that he started out in the film industry as an animator.  His very first short film was narrated by the legendary Vincent Price.  In 1993, he wrote and produced his first full-length animated film, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Corpse Bride is his second animated feature and is equally as good.  Kids will be enchanted by the unique-style of animation and the funny characters.  Adults will be surprised by the subtlety in the jokes, the richness of the story and the sheer quality of the whole production.  You might also have fun trying to recognise the voices amongst the large cast - it’s filled with Burton regulars such as Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

You have to appreciate the time and effort that it takes to put such animation together.  I am told that it took 28 separate shots to get the corpse bride to blink just once.  For this reason, the film clocks in at 76 minutes and it may be the shortest film you’ll see all year.  I have no problem with this.  It’s an ideal length for children and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.  My only question is why this wasn’t released during school holidays?