TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE
Like TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE is another brilliant foray into the realm of stop motion animation. The brilliance of this little film lies in its skewed vision of love, matrimony and death, all of which are pure Tim Burton. Loosely adapted from an old Russian folktale, TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE tells the story of shy Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp), whom we encounter on the eve of his prearranged marriage to Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson), a woman that he has never met. For the parents of the bride and groom- the arranged marriage is ideal, as it legitimizes Victor’s nouveau riche social climbing fish merchant parents, and provides Victoria’s penniless aristocratic parents with a much-needed infusion of cash.
Of course the rub in the story comes when Victor and Victoria instantly fall in love, but the nervous young groom finds it impossible to memorize his vows, thus threatening the entire enterprise. Wondering off into the woods to practice his vows, Victor innocently places the wedding ring onto a twig sticking out of the ground and manages to recite his vows flawlessly. Unfortunately, that unassuming twig turns out to be the skeletal hand of the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter)- to whom Victor now finds himself accidentally married. Before Victor can even explain that there has been a grave misunderstanding, he finds himself whisked off to the world of the dead and in search of a way to return to the living woman he loves.
TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE is a delightfully dark comic fairytale with a genuine heart and soul. The characters in the film are of genuine substance and one certainly feels for Victor’s plight, but at the same time, there is a heartbreaking quality to the Corpse Bride, who only wants to find love and happiness- even after death. And let us not forget about dear sweet Victoria, who also seeks love and happiness, and was only hours away from finding it with Victor. The vocal talent behind TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE also features Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Jane Horrocks, Enn Reitel, Deep Roy and Danny Elfman.
The stop motion animation of TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE is truly beautiful and I am delighted to see that this art form is still being embraced, as it could so easily be discarded in favor of computer generated animation. Both the character designs and the production design are wonderful- and just what one would expect from a film from Tim Burton. I love how the staid, reserved world of the living is presented in a near monochrome, while the far livelier world of the dead is presented in vibrant colors. Also adding to the film’s charm and overall fun is the musical score and songs provided by Burton’s near constant collaborator, Danny Elfman.
Warner Home Video has made TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Having seen the film theatrically, the DVD is a near perfect recreation of the film’s intended look. Image sharpness and detail are excellent for this type of production, which brings out all of the beauty in the stop motion puppets and the miniature sets that were built for the film. Color reproduction is very strong where appropriate- the world of the dead is quite vivid in appearance, while the sequences in the world of the living are beautifully monochromatic. Blacks are true, whites are stable, plus the levels of shadow detail and contrast are impressive. The film elements from with TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE are virtually pristine. A grain structure is occasionally noticeable, but is generally mild. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.
While not a surround sound demo disc, TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE comes with a very nice Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. All of the outlying channels are well utilized, but the sound design never goes overboard. Sound effects are well placed and work smartly with the material. Fidelity is excellent, with Danny Elfman’s score and songs being highlighted in the mix. The bass channel is just deep enough to keep everything grounded. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Inside The Two Worlds is a four-minute look at the stylistic differences between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Danny Elfman Interprets the Two Worlds spends five minutes with the composer, who discusses his contributions to the film. The Animators: The Breath Of Life is a six-minute program focused on the film’s stop motion animation. Tim Burton: Dark Vs. Light clocks in at over three minutes and features the director’s collaborators talking about him in relation to this production. Voices From The Underworld runs seven minutes and features a look at the vocal talent behind the characters. Making Puppet's Tick spends six minutes giving one a technical low down on how the puppets are created and brought to life on the screen. Pre-Production Galleries offer one a glimpse of photos, storyboards and test footage for the feature. An Isolated Music Track offers Danny Elfman’s score sans vocals and sound effects. Finally, a theatrical trailer and DVD trailer for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY close out the extras.
As I stated above TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE is a brilliant foray into the realm of stop motion animation. The movie is a delight for both animation fans and fans of filmmaker Tim Burton. As expected, Warner’s DVD looks and sounds great, which is guaranteed to please fans. Highly recommended.
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