Fancy a corpse for a bride?? – Return of Master Burton!!

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After watching The Corpse Bride recently, I could not have felt all the more relieved for my favourite director Tim Burton . The depressive slump of quality of his recent projects is finally over with the fantastic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Corpse Bride. Corpse Bride is a tale set in the depressing, repressful and stiff 19th Century - a tale of a love triangle that transcends the realm of the living into the realm of the dead. Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp, Burton's fave actor and so is mine ^_^), son of wealthy fish merchants looking to be elevated to the heights of society with the marriage, is set to be betrothed to Victoria Everglot (sweet Emily Watson) , whose former classy family is out of cash and out of luck and is looking at the marriage to get them out of the rut. Talk about the irony of things! Victor is madly insecure and downright frightened by the marriage prospects while Victoria was hopeful and sad... until she hears Victor playing sweet, lovely music on the piano in her home.Victor too, falls for Victoria, but that doesn't stop him from getting the jitters about marriage. He fouled up his marriage vows so badly during the rehearsal that the Pastor (the unmistakeable low, gruff voice of Christopher Lee) issued a stern warning to Victor that he get his vows right or else there won't be a marriage. Out he ran from the Everglot Manor like a frightened little pup and he began to wander about trying to get his vows right. Deeper and deeper into the dark, dank woods he goes until, when he finally got his vows right, he just HAD to slip the ring onto a root - unfortunately for Victor, it was much more than a root.The root was but the finger of Emily The Corspe Bride (Helena Bonham Carter sounds like she's having fun) who has been waiting ever since the day she died for her 'one true love' to set her free. And Victor's it! I must say, if The Corpse Bride were a live-action film, I would certainly wet my pants at the 'resurrected' scene of the Corpse Bride rising from the earth. That was just scary and definitely understood why Victor ran helter-skelter for his life. I would too, if I were in his shoes. And so, Victor ends up getting caught in a life and death tug -of-war between two women and must decide who he really loves and wants to spend the rest of his life with.While Corpse Bride is not as energetic and colourful and the animation not as supreme as Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton's finest animated work that put stop-motion claymation back into the limelight, Corpse Bride is still a very entertaining movie that really delivers the laughs - that is if you could stomach some of the queasy, icky stuff that was shown in the scenes depicting the Land of the Dead.

That aside, there are two things that I just love about The Corpse Bride. One is how Burton paints a stark contrast between the land of the living and the land of the dead. It's so striking that one could not have missed it. The land of the living, with its dark, grey hues and tones presents to us a depressing and at times, suffocating world where everyone has to be prim and proper. In contrast, the land of the dead - with its beautiful and colourful list of characters - comes across as a place to be merry... full of...um..er... well... just full of life. Ironic isn't it? But how seemingly true it must be to some people amongst us who thought that death's nothing but a party. What little colour left in the land of the living is the little blue butterfly that symbolises everything that life should be - free, unshackled by the norms and rules of a strict society. It is all the more poignant in the scene where Victor releases the blue butterfly from its captivity - seemingly to tell us that he longs to be just as free as the butterfly.

The second thing that I like about it is, of course, the humour and Burton rose to the occassion - poking fun at everything living and dead, no skulls unturned and no bones left unscattered. But I just have to mention three funny scenes that still stayed in mind long after I saw the movie. First, was when Emily sought the aid of Elder Gutknecht (one of my fave characters because of some of the one liners he uttered, voiced by Tony Award-winning Michael Gough, who was born in Malaysia in 1917!!!) to help them return to the Land of the Living. Puzzled and curious, the good elder quipped, "Why go up there when people are dying to get down here?" was just laugh out loud funny. The other two funny scenes worthy of mention happened when the dead returned to the Land of the Living to witness Emily's wedding to Victor. It showed how people alive and well react to the sudden appearance of the ghosties. One shows the innocence of a child who recognises his dead grandpa, but the way it was shown made it out as if the ghosts intended to kidnap the boy for dinner! But the best one had to be the feisty old lady reunited with his long dead husband... with Burton paying homage to Gone with the Wind with the line made famous by Clark Gable - "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!" - complete with the same pose and big kiss!There are other funny moments for everyone and while the scare factor is minimal, the fun factor is high up. Though this may be an animation, its best that parents watch this with their kids and be prepared to answer tough questions about life and death!

All in all, I am really happy with The Corpse Bride and the fun I had watching it. It's certainly much more watchable than the cringe-worthy The Big Fish and the bad turkey Planet of the Apes. Here's to hoping for more good stuff from the guru of all things gothic, macabre and dark - Tim Burton!!




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