Review: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride DVD

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
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By Gordon S. McLeod

Note: This is an old review I wrote long ago for my writing portfolio. I'm reposting it here because my experiments with creating pages for the portfolio pieces is not going well; there are some technical hurdles I could clear, but that I don't see much value in attempting to clear. So I'm going to repost ALL of my portfolio writing into the blog, categorized as Portfolio pieces.

Somehow I missed this film when it was in theatres; I guess I was too busy with school or something else I thought was more important. Shame on me. As a Tim Burton fan, I may never get over my disappointment in myself.

Oh well, anyway. I picked up my copy of Corpse Bride recently, and enjoyed it thoroughly, as I was sure I would. I must preface this with an admission however - I've heard an awful lot of people comparing it to A Nightmare Before Christmas, but I won't be one of them because frankly, it's been so long since I've seen Nightmare that I really can't remember it well enough at all to compare them. Maybe I'll do a comparison review when I revisit that film.

Johnny Depp takes centre stage, as he does in many of Burton's films. He plays the young lad Victor, soon to be pressed into marriage by parents. Victoria, the young woman he's to wed, comes from a noble but bankrupt family who see Victor as their key to regaining wealth, much as they hate the thought of joining their blood to the rising wealthy middle class.

Things don't go as planned, however; Victor stammers and stumbles his way through the wedding rehearsal and, embarassed and upset, runs off to practice his vows in the dark wood beyond the city. There, placing the ring upon what he thought was a gnarled old branch, he finds himself face to face with another bride, Emily - the titular Corpse Bride, who wastes no time in pulling him into the Land of the Dead.

Stylistically, this movie has got some very appropriate images going here, with the Land of the Dead echoing the style of the Land of the Living in its design and architecture. There's an interesting contrast at play in that the living inhabit a world reminiscent of Victorian England, a very repressed, somber, uninviting atmosphere that is captured in the movie quite well; all of the more tender moments in this world tend to happen behind closed doors. The Land of the Dead, on the other hand, is a very vibrant, colourful place with a lot of action and good cheer; the dearly departed are free from the social constrictions of the living and they revel in it.

The core of the story is something of a love triangle as Victor tries to find his way back to the land of the living while growing to sympathise with Emily and her plight, but still wanting to spend his life with Victoria above. The interplay between the two worlds and the two tugs on Victor's heart are beautifully played, and left me unsure through most of the film which bride I should be rooting for.

This movie is brand new to DVD, so I'll not spoil too much of the meat of it, nor the ending; suffice to say if you enjoy the films of Tim Burton, give this one a try.

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