Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride


The movie from Tim Burton's "classic" period that Corpse Bride most closely resembles to me is Beetlejuice. Both are filled with moments of joi de vivre - or, I suppose, in both cases something more like joi de morte (although my French grammar is mostly likely awkward there) - clever visuals, wonderful scenes and idea, but neither adds up to a whole movie.

The problems here begin with Victor, the main character, who completely lacks for any character. The first problem is the character design. While most of the characters have designs that allow for a range of emotions, Victor always merely looks mildly startled and sad, no matter what emotion he may be supposed to be feeling. The only truly developed character here is Emily, the corpse bride herself...

... in fact, her story and choices she ultimately has to make are so beautiful and genuine that I can only wish they had developed them properly with her as the main character.

The Land of the Dead is wonderfully realized, at times evoking the kind of joyful whimsy of Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone or the aforementioned Beetlejuice. The Bonejangles song is a delight in itself and especially along with the visuals accompanying it. Unfortunately the filmmakers became so enamoured of their conceit that the Land of the Dead was more "alive" than the Land of the Living that they completely left the moral of the screenplay from which they were working foggy at best, incomprehensible after any thought.

No matter how many wonderful things there are, delightful side characters, charming animation, terrific Danny Elfman songs... All that it is, in the end, is a fairy tale without a moral, a love story without a heart, a human drama without a soul.

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