Before launching himself into the world of death and skeletons, Tim Burton used to work for Disney. You know the Fox and the Hound? Well Burton was an animator on it! The light and fluffy standard, unsurprisingly, weren‘t really his style so he started to pursue his own work, with a stop motion animation called Vincent. The next time he sat in the directing chair for an animation would be in 2005, with The Corpse Bride.
Set in a Victoria town, Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) is set to marry Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson), a beautiful young woman who’s penniless family are set to help Victors family rise up the social ladder. When Victor cannot get his vows right, he runs off into the forest to practise, accidentally placing the wedding ring on the finger of the long dead Corpse Bride, Emily (Helena Bonham Carter). Dragged into the underworld and surrounded by the dead, Victor tries everything he can to escape his vows and return to the land of the living.
The stop-motion animation is flawless. Each character moves on wonderfully spindle-y legs which must’ve been a nightmare to balance but it still flows so brilliantly. Each character is brilliantly designed, with such detailed costumes and appearances. The all star cast brings the characters really to life. Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney voice the wonderfully unlike-able Lord and Lady Everglot, while Paul Whitehouse and Tracey Ullman voice their complete opposites as Mr and Mrs Van Dort. Christopher Lee’s booming voice steals the show as Pastor Gallswell and Richard E. Grant takes an evil turn as Lord Barkis. The casting in this film is superb, each voice fits the character absolutely perfectly.
As a musical, the film could have taken a turn into the ridiculous, but instead the fantastic soundtrack by Danny Elfman just takes it one step better. From the harrowing “Tears to Shed” to the upbeat “Remains of the Day”, the film is filled with catchy songs that will be stuck in your head for days. “Victors Piano Solo”, which later turns into “The Piano Duet” is the most beautiful piece of the film. The Duet scene is also one of the most brilliant stop motion animation scene, which must have taken days, if not weeks, to film.
As you may be able to tell, Corpse Bride is one of my favourite animations, second only to A Nightmare Before Christmas. The wonderful stop motion animation, combined with a fantastic score and all star cast makes it a brilliant watch – and well deserved to receive an Oscar nomination!