Directed by Tim Burton. USA. 2005.

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Ah, October. The season of peril for film minded families. October brings Halloween, the season where kids want to suddenly scare themselves silly with horror stories, and parents are left to the challenge of trying to find an Intense movie that won't cause nightmares until next years candy fest. Thus, traditionally at the end of september/first of October Hollywood studios start pumping out the fright flicks. There's the usual crop of teenagers in danger, unexplained events happening to a young family in a house that was sold for a low price for some odd reason, and then there's the selection of gentle thrills geared towards children.  It is in this last category where "Corpse Bride" belongs. Parents and kids watching the previews will have seen dancing skeletons, Uptempo musical numbers, and an animated, gangly Johnny Depp performing slapstick humour from one end of a dark forest to the other. Corpse Bride is not as it appears. Director Tim Burton's latest effort is not a funny little film, being in fact funny, but also quite moving, and sad.

Corpse Bride is the story of Victor, an extremely nervous groom to be. During an especially disastrous wedding rehearsal, Victor flees the scene, and heads off to the forest. Having not been able to perform his vows in front of the priest, Victor decides to practice alone among the trees, places his wedding ring on a nearby twig, and accidentally marries Emily, the corpse bride.

Johnny Depp (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is the voice of Victor. Depp is a marvel in this role. With only his voice, Depp immediately gives Victor a beautifully crafted personality. Whether Victor is panicing over his vows, sweetly expressing his feelings to his live bride to be, or attempting to comfort a broken-hearted corpse, Depp gives Victor a frenetic energy, and an enchanting innocence. Quite a likeable character.

Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club) has the biggest challenge in this film; to create a sympathetic character out of a deceased bride. She succeeds admirably. With the combination of supurb animation and wonderful acting from Carter, Emily the bride has a gentleness to her. Carter gives a complex character a simpleness, making her charming, and funny. (If a bit sad).

Corpse Bride. All rights reserved.In Corpse Bride Tim Burton has created a visually stunning world. The use of colour is inspired. Victor's world of the living is filled with a palette of shades of blacks, whites, and grays. Emily's spirit world is bursting with vivid colours. Burton's animation is flawless. The claymation process takes a supreme amount of patience and skill, and Burton has redefined this genre, capturing the perfect motion in every creature appearing in the film. Burton truly is an amazing artist.

The acting is wonderful. The writing skillful, the directing masterful. Corpse Bride is a beautiful film, and is well worth seeing. I would simply caution that the story is quite powerful, and intense at times. It is not what it appears in the previews. It is a much deeper, complex movie then  advertised, and if you don't feel it is appropriate for your child, it would be well worth going yourself.

Post Flick Discussion Warning : If your child is at all philosophically minded, (as my daughter is) you may find yourself in the difficult position of having a detailed discussion of life after death, what happens when you die, etc.

Appropriate Ages : 8 and up Parental Warning Bells : (Keeping in mind these are in an animated film) Intense action/Murder/Lead Character's limbs falling off/Characters in peril/death of a pet/Death in general
Parental Film Barometer : If your child could handle a more intense, more frightening version of The
Nightmare Before Christmas, they should be fine with this movie.

Jen Johnston
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