Friday, November 25, 2005


The CORPSE BRIDE: Wonderfully Macabre
By Reymundo Salao

I have been a long time fan of Tim Burton’s movies. His style of work is greatly defined by its wonderfully macabre gothic features. Much like his work in Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, and the Batman movie of 1989 and its sequel Batman Returns, (his only “bad” film that I could think of was his remake of The Planet of the Apes) his latest movie The Corpse Bride is a testament to his brand of goth film that has the capacity to appeal to the pop crowd.

Made in the exact consistency in terms of its stop-motion animation style and its definitive “Tim Burton atmosphere” of gothic wonderland with that of “Nightmare Before Christmas”, “The Corpse Bride” is a tale about a love triangle between a man torn between his love for his living fiancée and the love of the corpse bride that he meets. His story begins with an arranged marriage. Nouveau rich Fish-merchant tycoons the Van Dorts (voiced by Tracey Ullman and Paul Whitehouse) want their introverted son, Victor (Johnny Depp), to marry Victoria (Emily Watson), the winsome daughter of impoverished aristocrats, the Everglots (Albert Finney and Joanna Lumley). It's a crass cash-for-class transaction, unexpectedly turned romantic when the shy couple fall in love at first sight.

But at the rehearsal, Victor keeps flubbing his lines and flees to the nearby woods to steady himself. While practicing the vows, he inadvertently places the wedding ring on what appears to be a dead twig which turns out to be the very dead hand of the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter).

She takes him underground to the Land of the Dead, which is ironically a livelier, more colorful and festive place than the monochromatic world of the living, above. Developing a sense of love for the Corpse Bride, Victor has become torn between the choice of falling for either of the two brides that await him.

A powerhouse of morbid beauty and melodic macabre, Corpse Bride is filled with characters that seem to come out of horror flicks, stylized to fit in its cartoonish world, making them bizarre but adorable creatures of jazz and utter coolness. From the polite corpse that was sliced in two, to the decapitated head that is aided by companion cockroaches, to the singing black widows and the conscience maggot that his mere facial make-up is a combination of grotesque and cute, the world of Corpse Bride is lovely and wicked to the last drop.

The only shortcoming of Corpse Bride is if you compare it with “Nightmare Before Christmas” especially in terms of its musical scores, regardless that both were under the masterful musical instrumentations of Master Musical Scorer Danny Elfman. Elfman, who is formerly a member of the 80’s geek rock group Devo (Whip It!) has time and again made his mark in history of movie and television music having helmed the musical scores for almost all the Tim Burton movies, the Simpsons’ theme, the Addam’s Family movies, and countless more scores. Elfman’s work on this film is beautiful, but never as catchy as his previous work in Nightmare.

Regardless of some miniscule shortcomings and regardless of the very short film length which makes it so “bitin”, The CORPSE BRIDE is superb and highly recommended for all ages that can stand to enjoy pure weird fun.

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