A fantasy/musical stop motion animated film, Corpse Bride is an engaging story of love, betrayal, commitment, and getting even.
This 2005 stop motion animated fantasy/musical was directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson. It is set in a fictional European village in the Victorian era which features Tim Burton’s longtime friend and “collaborator” Johnny Depp as the male lead, “Victor Van Dort” while Burton’s significant other, Helena Bonham Carter (whom Corpse Bride was specially created for) lent her voice to the female lead, “Emily” aka the Corpse Bride.
Burton, who is best-known for his quirky take on movies (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Beetlejuice…the list goes on) is not exactly new to stop motion animation as he has already produced two full-feature stop animation films and one short film prior to Corpse Bride (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Vincent).
Now back to the story of Victor Van Dort. Shy, clumsy, and awkward (think Johnny Depp in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, another Burton film) Victor is set up on an arranged marriage by his parents with Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson). The marriage is meant to “better” the current social and financial standings of the respective families. While Victor and Emily were initially hesitant to marry a stranger, they actually do end up falling in love (at first sight) and have become more enthusiastic about their union. While everything seems set for a happily ever after, Victor unknowingly ruins everything when he placed his ring on a supposed piece of twig, awakening Emily, the Corpse Bride.
She then claims that she and Victor are now “married” and takes Victor to the Land of the Dead but of course, his heart still beats for Victoria.
Victor’s journey from the Land of the Dead back to the Land of the Living is at times scary, exciting, and just like any good movie, you end up learning a thing or two about life and how people can be. While this story of finding “true love” and fighting for it has been wonderfully executed in animation, younger kids may have a hard time understanding why Emily died in the first place, the concept of arrange marriages, and what’s up with that creepy Lord Barkis Bittern.
Corpse Bride was nominated in the 78th Academy Awards for Best animated feature but lost out to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – another stop motion animation film. Unlike Burton’s cult favorite, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride was shot with a battery of Canon EOS-1D Mark II digital SLRs.
Another interesting factoid about Corpse Bride is that it was actually based on an ancient Jewish folklore. In a legend found in the Shivkhey HoAri (a biographical collection of mystical stories about a renowned kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi), someone put a ring on what seemed to be a finger sticking out from the ground and jokingly pronounced the formal betrothal phrase, ending up unwillingly married to a woman from the underworld who claimed him as her husband. Fortunately for the man, according to the Arizal, the marriage was not valid as the man didn’t really willingly performed the betrothal but just to be safe, he had to divorce his corpse bride in accordance to Jewish law.
Corpse Bride was both a financial and critical success, a truly haunting story of love found and lost.
Here’s a look at the Corpse Bride trailer:
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