I got around to seeing Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride tonight – and thought it was brilliant. In these days of CGI, it is wonderful to see how good stop motion animation can be, when it is carried out at the very highest levels. Corpse Bride, like the best works from the Aardman stable, is filled with an unstoppable inventiveness that makes the puppets more alive than many live action films. The film is filled with visual and verbal jokes on all levels (the second hand shop, with the second hands pointing the way in which the fugitive Victor has fled, for example)
What also struck me is how Burton increasingly seems to be the manager of his very own repertory company – he uses the same actors time and again in his films: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Christopher Lee, Albert Finney, Michael Gough, and, doing the music, Danny Elfman.
Whilst Elfman’s music is immediately recognisable (and in Corpse Bride, has clear echoes with his Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas), there were moments of pure Gilbert and Sullivan or Cab Calloway coming through in this score. In several places, the music took centre stage to advance or to illuminate the plot (for example, According to Plan or Bojangles’ Song), and animated film became operetta.
There were also some new additions to the repertory company, who I hope will make reappearances in future Burton films: Joanna Lumley, Paul Whitehouse and Jane Horrocks.
All told, Corpse Bride is simply wonderful.
Oh, and as an aside, it was interesting to see Burton and Bonham-Carter, who are, apparently, an item, sporting the same birds-nest hairdos…