Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride

****1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Those who are beguiled by Pixar's CGI magic should not forget old-fashioned ways of animation. Look at the beauty of the background drawing in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, the capacity for character study in the deceptively simple claymation of Wallace & Gromit and now the sensational stringless puppetry of Corpse Bride. Add to this, voicing skills that keep raising the bar and it can be announced officially that cartoons have stopped chasing the mouse and become art.

The characters in Corpse Bride, or rather their moulded images, are from Gilray's sketchbook, social grotesques masquerading as pillars of society. Only the apologetic, stick-thin bridegroom, Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp), and his prospective brides are protected by innocence from the cynicism, avarice and bigotry all around.

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In a marriage of convenience, Victor is betrothed to Victoria (Emily Watson), the shy daughter of impoverished aristocrats, but is so nervous he keeps fluffing his lines at the wedding rehearsal and wanders off into the forest to practice. It is here, while enunciating his vows to a fallen tree that Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), the corpse bride, rises from the earth to claim his hand.

The world from which she comes is as lively as Victoria's is dead. Corpses, it appears, lack the pretension and snobbery of their breathing cousins. In fact, the skeletal life is one big party and Emily introduces the terrified, yet delightfully polite, Victor to its charms, which include enthusiastic song-and-dance numbers.

Tim Burton has been missing the point of late (The Planet Of The Apes, Big Fish) and there are murmurs amongst aficionados of his edgy, Gothic parables of Americana (Batman, Edward Scissorhands) that he has gone over to The Other Side and become (gasp!) mainstream. Quite soon he will cut his hair, stop looking like Alice Cooper and sip sherry in the drawing rooms of wife Helena's posh relatives.

Fear not! Corpse Bride is even better than The Nightmare Before Christmas. It displays the imagination of a man, haunted in childhood by the Brothers Grimm, with a twisted sense of humour, steeped in 19th century romanticism.

The puppetry is masterful and the voicing by such luminaries as Albert Finney, Joanna Lumley and Richard E Grant, whose villainous confidence trickster matches Jason Lee's psychopathic superhero fan from The Incredibles with acidic subtlety, is inspired. Depp continues to amaze. His perfect English accent and resolute understanding of Victor's appalling dilemma, whether to choose the sexy dead Emily, or the sweet natured live Victoria, is expressively sympathetic.

Reviewed on: 21 Oct 2005
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Stop-motion love story sees a young man inadvertantly marry a dead woman.
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Kotleta ****

Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

Writer: John August, Pamela Pettler, Caroline Thompson

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Jane Horrocks, Enn Reitel, Deep Roy, Danny Elfman, Stephen Ballantyne

Year: 2005

Runtime: 76 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK

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