Without death, you never fully realize the beauty of living. In Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, we’re whisked away from the dull, money-centric Victorian town of the living and brought into the musical, gloomy yet exciting, maggot-infested underworld of the dead. There, we meet Emily, her worm companion, and dancing cadavers who are brimming with life. 2005 was a fantastic year for Burton. A few months after delighting us with his elegant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” he continues to amaze us with this visual feast.
How to Stream or Download Corpse Bride
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The Movie Review
The story begins when Victor Van Dort finds himself in an arranged marriage with Victoria Everglot, a girl he’s never spoken to. After horribly messing up their wedding rehearsal, Victor goes deep into the woods in shame. In the forest, he practices his vows to a tree branch and nails it.. until a cold, blue, very dead bride emerges from the grave Victor was standing next to.
Emily, his new, corpse bride, takes him to the Land of the Dead to celebrate their marriage. Meanwhile, his live fiancée waits impatiently in the Land of the Living for his return. Now, Victor must choose between his love-at-first-sight fiancée Victoria and his heartbroken corpse bride Emily.
Directors Tim Burton and Mike Johnson previously collaborated in Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, another extraordinarily imaginative and beautifully designed musical stop-motion animation involving skeletons. Burton is one of the few directors who can create a family film out of death and decay, and his distinct art style (animated to life by Johnson) makes it pleasing to digest. On top of that, the writers of Edward Scissorhands also wrote Corpse Bride, giving it a perfect balance of macabre and romance.
The studio has done a perfect job contrasting both worlds, from the color palette, world-building, the personalities of the citizens that inhabit them, and the soundtrack. The Land of the Living feels cold and disconnected, while the song “According to Plan” performed by the Van Dorts and Everglots is anxious. On the other hand, the Land of the Dead is lit with purples, warm oranges, and poisonous greens, welcoming Victor with an upbeat, jazzy number “Remains of the Day”.
Despite the fact that they’re literally going to kill Victor, the underworld was so exciting that even I was disappointed that he chose to stay with Victoria. But if it ended that way, it wouldn’t be a Tim Burton story anymore. We also wouldn’t get that ending of Emily fragmenting into blue butterflies, flying into the moon.
A lot of people have returned for another Burton production. Danny Elfman’s musical composition has the magical ability to make me feel wonder, sadness, and excitement. Longtime collaborator Johnny Depp plays Victor and Emily Watson as Victoria, but Bonham-Carter stole the show as the wretched Corpse Bride, whose accidental death has ensured that she will spend forever seeking true love.
Even smaller characters from both realms were interesting from beginning to end, but my favorite of them all is Maggot. It’s rare for a comedic relief to be annoying and lovable at the same time. Everyone’s personalities perfectly balance each other out, and Lord Barkis Bittern makes for an intensely satisfying villain.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Corpse Bride is a tragically beautiful movie about living (and the opposite of), love, and most of all, sacrifice. Even as he meets his childhood dog Scraps once again, it never convinces Victor to stay in the Netherworld. Instead of giving us a conventional ending, the movie leaves us asking questions about why Victor made the decisions he made. Corpse Bride is another masterpiece from Tim Burton’s dark, twisted mind.