Monday, January 09, 2006

Corpse Bride

I was really looking forward to Tim Burton’s newest film. His similar project Nightmare before Christmas had really enchanted me. The Corpse Bride has all the elements to be a perfect little diamond and still something is lacking. Over expectation sometimes can ruin even the best film I suppose. Sometimes I wish I had never seen the trailer of a film. All the surprising aesthetic of the stop-animation technique was in the trailer to be consumed over and over. My eyes and brain got accustomed to it and when I finally got to see the film … was everything that I expected but nothing more.
Let’s try though to see the film in a more subjective way. The story of a young man who is preparing for a wedding with a lady he loves and by unfortunate circumstances ends up married to dead cursed bride was the perfect match for the stop-animation technique. Gothic, imaginative and romantic enough to create a kind of film that Burton does best. The upper world is presented without much color in grayscale. The world of the dead though is full of color and style. This inversion where the dead are more free, vivid and colorful than the living is indeed a clever thought. Clever idea is also the worm that inhabits bride’s skull and speaks as the voice of her conscience. All these dead-characters remain more positive and sympathetic than the living ones through out the film. There are also enough references to other films. The hand coming out of the grave reminding us of Carrie and the skeleton in the musical number of the dead could easily be the introductory character from Cabaret.
Analyzing the film one has to admit that the directing is more than efficient, the acting is great, the music is good, the script is imaginative and the aesthetic is interesting. However in the end the image that stays with us is the particularity of the technique which characterizes and marks the whole film. Corpse Bride beside being a well made experiment, is a still typical cartoon. The skeleton story would never be chosen by the all too clean-cut, cute and happy Disney. On the other hand the script is handled too much like a Disney cartoon. The images remain mild, there are musical numbers and all the characters sing and dance. Little cute pets have been transformed into a skeleton-dog, a worm and a spider but are still there. It seems that both audience and spectators are expecting very specific things form a cartoon. I can appreciate that Burton parodies these expectations in a way in his film but I wish that instead of parody he would drift further away from the usual form of the cartoons.

Do check the flash version of the Corpse Bride site! It is delicious!!

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