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"Can a heart still break when it stops beating?",
This review is from: Corpse Bride [Blu-ray]  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)There are many films involving love triangles, but they tend not to span mortal coils. This is essentially a dark love story with murder and zombies, it's also one of the best films I've seen for some years.
Shrinking violet Victoria and the socially awkward Victor are due to be married. It's an arranged union of convenience as far as their parents are concerned but the betrothed are relieved to find that they connect well and instantly develop feelings for each other. Their mutual love should make for a genuinely celebratory wedding but Victor's clumsiness during the rehearsal leads to a series of events resulting in him becoming the husband of a semi-decomposed woman buried in the woods.
Corpse Bride Emily may be a rotting zombie but she's no monster, the strength of this film is how the three primary characters are all very likeable and each are a victim of their own circumstances that you can sympathise with. Victoria is left seeing her love married to another, Emily feels heartbroken at her husband longing for another woman, and Victor himself simply wants to please everybody and cares deeply for both. The dark core of this film gives it an emotional depth which older audiences will appreciate and younger viewers will still pick up on, it's crucial for a film concerned with human emotions to be both stirring and convincing, The Corpse Bride is a stop motion film which has more heart than most live action Hollywood rom-coms. It's hard to believe that this film is only 1hr 15mins in duration (give or take 2 minutes) because the scope is ambitious and although the plot is relatively simple, the complexity of the relationships and the character's insecurities (particularly Emily, the Corpse Bride herself) are fully explored and developed.
The level of animation for this film is never less than impressive. The puppets themselves have so much personality with expressive eyes conveying plenty of emotion - and that's before they even move! The characters here are whimsical and full of the fantastical vision that Tim Burton brings to his films, but they are so very human because they appear to genuinely have feelings. Maybe it's just me being a bit weird but a corpse has never looked so sexy, then again I also found the mum from The Incredibles to be quite nice. Anyway, the stop motion capture is the smoothest I've ever seen animated and there are visual gags in almost every scene, some are pretty obvious (the maggot springing from Emily's eye socket) whereas others are more subtle (a skeleton scratching his head makes part of his skull come loose). We saw the same sort of thing in The Nightmare Before Christmas, but the sharper image quality and busier backgrounds of The Corpse Bride mean that there's more to see in addition of the main action.
The Nightmare Before Christmas was animated using stills taken with a traditional 35mm camera back in the early `90s, but The Corpse Bride uses digital SLRs to capture an ultra-sharp image. The Blu-Ray transfer compliments the filming technique and it looks gorgeous on screen. It's not just the subject matter which is dark, and the high definition presentation reveals lots of detail in the dimly lit scenes and the rendering of textures is amongst the best I've seen, just look at Emily's wedding dress - the details are exquisite, it looked good on DVD but in Blu-Ray you appreciate the benefits the medium provides. Danny Elfman's score is full of energy and melancholy, he appeared to have fun with 'Nightmare and seems equally enthused with 'Corpse. The soundtrack stands up well on its own and the repeated themes tie everything together beautifully, this release dedicates a feature in the bonus material to Elfman's handling of the score. It's a good documentary and forms part of several mini 'behind the scenes' features which give you a good idea of the efforts involved in bringing this film to life. There are some great voice talents in action here and they also get their own feature, I was pleased to see that as they bring so much to the final product. The primarily British cast can be seen delivering some of their characters lines, sometimes this can ruin the magic of such a film but The Corpse Bride is such an enchanting story that it takes nothing away seeing the real-life faces who provide the voices.
In a nutshell: Tim Burton's done it again - it's another story about someone who doesn't quite fit in and it still manages to be unique and fresh. Full of humour, fantastic songs, great animation and even greater characters. I expected this to be second rate compared to The Nightmare Before Christmas but it was actually an impressive feature which doesn't seem to get the recognition it deserves.
Location: Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.
Top Reviewer Ranking: 62