Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tim Burton
|Produced by||Tim Burton
|Screenplay by||John August
Helena Bonham Carter
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Editing by||Chris Lebenzon|
Tim Burton Productions
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||77 minutes|
Corpse Bride, often referred to as Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, is a 2005 stop-motion-animated fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson. The plot is set in a fictional Victorian era village in Europe. Johnny Depp led an all-star cast as the voice of Victor, while Helena Bonham Carter voiced Emily, the title character. Corpse Bride is the third stop-motion feature film produced by Burton and the first directed by him (the previous two films, The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, were directed by Henry Selick). This is also the first stop-motion feature from Burton that isn't distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It was dedicated to Joe Ranft who died during production.
The film was nominated in the 78th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, but was beaten by Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which also starred Helena Bonham Carter. It was shot with a battery of Canon EOS-1D Mark II digital SLRs, rather than the 35mm film cameras used for Burton's previous stop-motion film The Nightmare Before Christmas.
In an unnamed Victorian Era European village, Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp), the son of nouveau riche fish merchants, and Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson), the neglected daughter of hateful aristocrats, are getting prepared for their arranged marriage, which will raise the social class of Victor's parents and restore the wealth of Victoria's penniless family. Both have concerns about marrying someone they do not know, but they fall instantly in love when they first meet. After the shy, clumsy Victor ruins the wedding rehearsal and is scolded by Pastor Galswells (Christopher Lee), he flees and practices his wedding vows in the nearby forest, placing the wedding ring on a nearby upturned tree root.
The root turns out to be the finger of a dead girl clad in a tattered bridal gown, who rises from the grave claiming that she is now Victor's wife. Spirited away to the surprisingly festive Land of the Dead, the bewildered Victor learns the story of Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), his new "bride," murdered years ago on the night of her secret elopement. Emily, as a wedding gift, reunites Victor with his long-dead dog, Scraps. Meanwhile, Victoria's parents hear that Victor has been seen in another woman's arms, and become suspicious.
Wanting to reunite with Victoria, Victor tricks Emily into taking him back to the Land of the Living by pretending he wants her to meet his parents. She agrees to this and takes him to see Elder Gutknecht (Michael Gough), the kindly ruler of the underworld, to send him and Emily temporarily to the Land of the Living. Once back home, Victor asks Emily to wait in the forest while he rushes off to see Victoria and confess his wish to marry her as soon as possible, to which she gladly returns his feelings. Emily soon arrives and sees the two of them together and, feeling betrayed and hurt, drags Victor back to the Land of the Dead. Victoria tells her parents that Victor has been forcibly wed to a dead woman, but they believe she has lost her mind and lock her up in her bedroom. She escapes her room by window and rushes to Galswells to find a way helping Victor, but fails. With Victor gone, Victoria's parents decide to marry her off to a presumably wealthy newcomer in town named Lord Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant), who appeared at the wedding rehearsal, against her will.
Emily is heartbroken by Victor's deception. Victor, however, apologizes for lying to her, and the two reconcile while playing the piano together. Shortly after, Victor's family coachman appears in the afterlife (having recently died) and informs Victor of Victoria's impending marriage to Lord Barkis. At the same time, Emily learns from Elder Gutknecht that because marriage vows are only binding until "death do you part" and death already parts them, her supposed marriage to Victor was never valid. In order for their marriage to become valid, Victor must repeat his vows in the Land of the Living and willingly drink poison - thus joining her in death. Overhearing this, and fretting about having lost his chance with Victoria, Victor agrees to die for Emily. All of the dead go "upstairs" to the Land of the Living to perform the wedding ceremony for Victor and Emily. Upon their arrival, the town erupts into a temporary panic until every living person recognizes each others' loved ones from the dead and they have a joyous reunion under the bizarre circumstances.
After a quarrel with Lord Barkis - and realizing he was only after her supposed money - Victoria follows the procession of dead to the church. As Victor prepares to drink the cup of poison to kill himself, Emily notices Victoria and has second thoughts, realizing that she is denying Victoria her chance at happiness the same way it was stolen from her. Lord Barkis interrupts them, and Emily recognizes him as her former fiance - who is revealed to be the one who murdered her for her dowry. Lord Barkis tries to kidnap Victoria at sword point, but Victor stops him and the two men duel. Emily intercedes to save Victor, and Lord Barkis mockingly proposes a toast to Emily claiming she's "always the bridesmaid, never the bride!", and accidentally drinking the cup of poison. The dead (now able to intercede as he's dead) drag the "new arrival" away for punishment.
Emily sets Victor free of his vow to marry her, giving the wedding ring back to Victor and her wedding bouquet to Victoria before exiting the church. As she steps into the moonlight, she transforms into hundreds of butterflies, presumably finding peace, as Victor and Victoria look on.
- Johnny Depp as Victor Van Dort, a shy and gawky young man who is engaged to Victoria Everglot for social and financial reasons. He is a very good pianist.
- Helena Bonham Carter as Emily, the Corpse Bride, a beautiful and charismatic young woman with a passion for music and dance.
- Emily Watson as Victoria Everglot, Victor Van Dort's pretty, sweet-natured, yet timid fiancee. She is kind and shy, yet determined when she puts her mind to it.
- Tracey Ullman as Nell Van Dort, Victor's socially ambitious mother who holds contempt for her son. Ullman also plays Hildegarde, the elderly, hunch-backed maid of the Everglot household who acts as a mother figure for Victoria.
- Paul Whitehouse as William Van Dort, Victor's absent-minded and tactless father, and Mayhew, the Van Dorts' coachman. Whitehouse also voices Paul the "Head Waiter", literally a severed head.
- Joanna Lumley as Lady Maudeline Everglot, Victoria's cold, unloving mother.
- Albert Finney as Lord Finis Everglot, Victoria's grim and avaricious father, and Grandfather Everglot, Finis' deceased grandfather.
- Richard E. Grant as Lord Barkis Bittern, a charming yet murderous con-artist.
- Christopher Lee as Pastor Gallswells, a haughty and bad-tempered priest who is hired to conduct Victor and Victoria's marriage.
- Michael Gough as Elder Gutknecht, an ancient and rickety skeleton who rules benevolently over the underworld.
- Jane Horrocks as The Black Widow, an affable black widow spider seamstress, and Mrs. Plum, the deceased, proprietress of the Ball and Socket Pub.
- Enn Reitel as Maggot, a sarcastic, green maggot who lives inside Emily's head and acts as her conscience, and The Town Crier. Reitel's performance as Maggot is a parody of Peter Lorre.
- Deep Roy as General Bonesapart, a dwarfish skeleton in a military uniform with a sword stuck in his chest. He is a parody of Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Danny Elfman as Bonejangles, a vivacious, one-eyed, singing skeleton. Modeled loosely on Sammy Davis Jr. due to his having one eye (Sammy had a glass eye) and an exaggerated underbite.
- Stephen Ballantyne as Emil, the Everglots' long-suffering butler.
The film is based upon Jewish folklore with a similar plot.
One version of the legend is included in the Shivkhey HoAri, the biographical collection of mystical stories about a renowned kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria Ashkenazi. There, someone jokingly put a ring on a finger sticking from the ground and pronounced the formal betrothal phrase, thus unwillingly becoming married to a woman from the underworld who subsequently came to claim him as a husband. The case was brought in front of the Arizal, who ruled that since the man did not willingly perform the betrothal he was not bound by the marriage, but to be sure that the woman should remain free to marry one of her kind, the man had to give her a formal divorce according to the Jewish law.
The soundtrack was written by Danny Elfman with the help of John August and released on September 20, 2005. It contains all of the music from the film including score music and four songs with lyrics sung by voice actors.
The film was a financial success, grossing $53,359,111 domestically and $117,195,061 worldwide. It was also met with almost universal acclaim from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported 84% of their critics gave the film a positive review. The film also maintains a nearly identical 83/100 rating from Metacritic. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film three stars out of four, praising the voice acting and animation, stating that it is not a "macabre horror story as the title suggests", and calling the film a "sweet and visually lovely tale of love lost".
Corpse Bride was released on DVD in the US on January 31, 2006. The film was also released in the discontinued HD DVD format, and then on Blu-ray Disc. These releases include featurettes on the shooting and production of the film, as well as the isolated score.
See also 
- Bowles, Scott (2005-09-27). "Stop-motion coaxes 'Corpse Bride,' 'Gromit' to life". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
- "Corpse Bride (2005) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- Deming, Mark. "Corpse Bride". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride "filmed" with EOS-1D Mark II's", Rob Galbraith.com, September 14, 2005
- "Corpse Bride - About the DVD: Inspiration".
- "שבחי האר"י".
- "Burton’s ‘Corpse’ Has Jewish Bones".
- "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride". Chicago Sun-Times.
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
- Official website
- Corpse Bride at the Internet Movie Database
- Corpse Bride at AllRovi
- Corpse Bride at Rotten Tomatoes
- Corpse Bride at Metacritic
- Corpse Bride at Box Office Mojo