In 2005, I was part of my college’s student union board films committee and had the delight of helping host a sneak preview for Corpse Bride. We handed out tickets all week and put it on at the theater within walking distance from campus. I got to enjoy the film with everyone else and afterwards dutifully interviewed a few people about the event and their thoughts on the film. And of course, I stole the poster. I believe my brother still has it in his room.
In Corpse Bride, Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) is engaged to marry Victoria (voiced by Emily Watson). Through their first meeting, we see that they would be a very sweet couple, but the rehearsal goes terribly for poor Victor. Upset, he takes a walk in the woods trying to learn his vows. When he finally nails them, complete with placing the ring on what he thought was a branch, it turns out someone was listening and taking his every word to heart.
Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) is our perfectly sweet, lovely, lively Corpse Bride. When she hears Victor’s perfect vows and feels the ring on her bones she knows her time has come. From Bonejangles, a singing set of bones, we get a fun and jazzy musical number explaining the predicament that sent poor Emily to her grave. Feeling sorry that she was betrayed and murdered by her fiance, Victor doesn’t have the heart to simply leave Emily. And when things get more complicated when they go back upstairs Victor decides to stay with Emily, but there’s a catch.
One of Burton’s trademarks is the way he uses color, or the lack of color. Here, like in Edward Scissorhands, he uses it to show distinction between two worlds. Victor’s mortal world is very gray geometric and bleak. Emily’s world of the dead is full of bright colors, fun lighting effects and jazzy dance moves. One of the few elements that brings color into the mortal world are butterflies, which has a wonderful significance to the film, bridging both worlds together peacefully.
Right now, Corpse Bride is a go-to movie for my son and I on Netflix Instant. While it is partially about dead people, it is not frightening, gory or violent. My son likes to dance along with the skeletons to the best song in the film. And I enjoy the great stop-motion animation, Peter Lorre maggot and a short trip down memory lane.
“I’ve spent so long in the darkness, I’d almost forgotten how beautiful the moonlight is.”