A Reel View: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

A Reel View
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

Tim Burton, arguably the greatest visual director of the last 20 years, has returned to his roots in animation with "Corpse Bride," a love story between a boy, a girl, and a decaying former bride. But do not despair; the film is humorous and sweet, despite what the title may suggest.
Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp) has a bit of a problem. His day begins with the announcement that his parents are arranging his marriage to Victoria Everglot (voiced by Emily Watson), the daughter of a poor aristocratic family. Victor and Victoria have never met, a fact that worries both of them. When they finally meet prior to their wedding rehearsal, Victoria expresses her sadness. She wishes that she could marry someone truly special to her, a person that she really loves. But the more time she spends with Victor, the more she realizes that she honestly does love him.
Victor's anxiety becomes apparent at the rehearsal, where he cannot seem to deliver his vows. When this proves to be disastrous for all those involved, Victor retreats to the woods to practice his vows. Just his luck, he finally gets them right, but only after placing the wedding ring on a skeletal finger he mistook for a twig. The finger belongs to Emily aka: the Corpse Bride (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter), a beautiful, yet rotting, corpse. Victor's words reanimate Emily, who responds to him with "I do." Victor, as anyone else would, faints.
When he awakes, Victor finds himself in a whole new world. The afterlife is ironically much more colorful and lively than the world of the living. The recently deceased sing and dance for Victor, who is still curious as to what has happened. He learns that he has broken the spell that was placed upon Emily. Murdered by her fiancĒ before her wedding, Emily's spirit is now able to rest thanks to Victor. However, he must stay in the afterlife as her husband, an idea that he does not seem to be too fond of.
Meanwhile, in the land of the living, word has spread that Victor has run off with a mysterious woman. Victoria's parents, angered by the news, decide to give Victoria's hand in marriage to the wealthy Barkis Bittern (voiced by Richard E. Grant), a wedding guest with a dreadful secret.
Tim Burton is no stranger to the world of animation. The former Disney animator first explored his artistic vision with the short film "Vincent" in 1982, although he is probably best known for his story "The Nightmare Before Christmas" directed by Henry Selick. "Corpse Bride" is very similar to "Nightmare." The film thrives on its morbid and gothic qualities, but never loses sight of its heart.
Burton's visuals, as well as his talent for casting (Depp and Bonham Carter's voices have never sounded better), make "Corpse Bride" one of the most interesting and unique films of the year. The well-crafted story fits perfectly with Burton's trademark style, creating a heartfelt experience with a spooky coating.
"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" will be available on video and DVD on January 31st.

James M. Gullard is a film student at Towson University. Email him your movie thoughts at jgulla1@towson.edu