Friday, 30 September 2011

The Corpse Bride

Well, this is new for me, it's a rarity for me to review anything other than books and I think this is definitely my first ever film review. I usually leave that sort of thing to my sons, who can talk intelligently about camera angles and framing shots and I-don't-know-what's. I'm more comfortable with people standing (or hopping) about on stages. But nothing venture, as they say, and you won't be at all surprised that it's RIP VI that made me take the plunge.

Anyway, after years of not quite getting round to it despite having recorded it, we finally watched The Corpse Bride. Now, this may be controversial, but I think my expectations had been a bit too high - for a start, you'd think I might have remembered that I'm not a huge Tim Burton fan - but my overall feeling was of slight disappointment. I never felt really involved with it, and OH, who was watching with me, felt much the same. We agreed that there were things we had enjoyed about it, and that it had made an agreeable evening's viewing, but not a standout one.

What were our criticisms? Well, it wasn't dark enough, it wasn't funny enough (I thought some of the jokes were quite lame) and sadly, it wasn't beautiful enough. The characterisation was too minimal - the most well-rounded character by far was the Bride herself, followed by Scraps the dog, who was admittedly very sweet. OH complained that it was too Disney-ish, me that, despite its cast of voices being largely British, it wasn't European enough (though I doubt if Burton had ever meant it to be that...). We both compared it unfavourably with other films - OH with Miyazaki's Spirited Away (which we loved), me with Coraline and Mirrormask, which we agreed to be both beautiful and dark - and that the use of stop motion in the latter two made it a fairer comparison. We were unanimous that The Curse of the Were Rabbit had been funnier and more engaging, and that we'd both enjoyed that film far more than we'd expected to.

OH gave some thought to the music, which he described as Gilbert and Sullivan for the living, and jazz for the dead. Was there anything about jazz at all, he wondered, which made it an appropriate choice? I thought that perhaps it tied into an American association of death with mardi gras, where jazz is the music of choice. The use of the piano was nice. I was impressed by the treatment of fabrics, particularly the attention given to the way skirts would slide down a staircase, a severally-repeated trope. OH said that he'd been in love with Helena Bonham-Carter ever since Room With a View, so she couldn't really go wrong for him. We both liked the dog.

We couldn't entirely agree on whether it was a good thing that the denouement had been clearly flagged so early in the film. OH thought not; I suggested that it had to be seen to be following the proper arc for what is essentially a fairytale. We established that OH hadn't remembered Tim Burton's oeuvre, so he hadn't really known what to expect anyway, and that the way in which Johnny Depp's character grew up throughout the film was quite appealing, if relatively straightforward. We concluded that it had been a perfectly pleasant film, and that we were glad we'd finally got round to it.

Did I mention that we liked the dog? 


  1. *sigh* I felt the same about this film. I wanted it, in particular, to be darker. It wasn't creepy enough for a film containing so much death.

  2. I too felt the same way about it. It had so much potential, and yet it never quite fulfilled it.

  3. I only managed to catch half of this film once, replayed on tv, and I remember at first thinking it was sort of clever but not engrossing...then I got completely engrossed in it and ended up teary at the end! That was a surprise. In any case, it made me definitely want to see the whole thing from start to finish, but I do remember thinking it was strangely much more lighthearted than the material would imply, but much darker than the humour wanted it to be. What a paradox.

  4. I actually like this one better than The Nightmare Before Christmas.

    I know; I know. Throw stones at me now.....

  5. I thought this was a bit of a let down after The Nightmare Before Christmas. It was like they tried too hard and it just came out wrong... I am not sure what it was, but I didn't love it.

  6. I'm so glad not to be the only person to feel disappointed, I feel much reassured by your comments, Jenny and Nymeth and Kailana!

    Amanda, I've never seen Nightmare Before Christmas, so I can't argue!

    Kate, I think you are so right about the paradox.

  7. You're definitely not alone. I am a Tim Burton fan, and I remember feeling quite a bit letdown after watching this.

  8. Cathy, I shall go ahead and watch Nightmare Before Christmas finally, because quite a few people seem to prefer it.