Critical Thinking Fiction

Corpse Bride: The Animation That Finds Happiness in Gray

Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride (2005) is one of Tim Burton’s most prominent movies. It’s a stop-motion animated musical film. Needless to say, there are important things that make this movie so popular such as its story, characters and shooting technique. Let’s analyze this impressive animation in detail.

Attention Spoiler Alert!  

Haven’t watched Corpse Bride yet? What are you waiting for? WATCH IT NOW! 


First of all, I want to talk about some characters. The events take place in a Victorian village and characters are typical Victorian Era people. 

Let’s start with Victor.

Victor Van Dort is a good, naive and somewhat coward person. He can play the piano. He is tall, slim and he has pale skin. Actually, most of the characters in the animation are like that. I mean, in the land of living.

Similarly, Victoria Everglot is a delicate, kind and good person. Victor and Victoria are compatible with each other like their names and also with the period they live in.

Emily is the ‘’corpse bride’’ from the title of the film. Yes, she is a corpse and thus her heart doesn’t beat, but she still has feelings and she is a kind person. Also, like Victor, she can play the piano.

One groom two brides

The story begins when our shy groom Victor messes up his wedding vows in the rehearsal, so he goes to the woods to practice. However, he isn’t aware that he finally gets his vows right in the presence of a deceased young woman who was there. As she hears the wedding vows, she rises from the dead because she thinks they were meant for her. As a result, Victor finds himself married to a dead person while his living bride-to-be waits for him.

The living and the dead

Let’s have a look at the scene where Victoria’s father smiled. He tries to smile, but it doesn’t look like a smile. Of course, the corpses look different from humans. Their clothes are torn, their skin is different and some parts of their bodies are just bones. Despite all, they aren’t scary and disturbing, we even love them.

‘’If I touch a burning candle, I can feel no pain. In the ice or in the sun, it’s all the same. Yet I feel my heart is aching. Though it doesn’t beat, it’s breaking. And the pain here that I feel, try and tell me it’s not real. I know that I am dead, yet it seems that I still have some tears to shed.’

From the song “Tears to shed”.


At the beginning of the film, we see the wedding preparations of the two ‘living’ families; Van Dorts and The Everglots. The Everglots are eager to marry their daughter because they just need the money, and the Van Dorts want to be in high society. The wedding arrangement between Victor and Victoria shows that in the Victorian era, families married their children to raise their class status and become rich. They didn’t care about their children’s happiness.

Another significant theme is the separation of the two lands: The land of the living and the land of the dead. The land of the living is pale, colourless and dark, but the land of the dead is a colourful place full of excitement and joy. It is an unexpected portrayal because normally, death reminds us of darkness and living reminds us of colours. When Victor marries Emily and goes to the underworld, he encounters a world very different from his own. The other corpses sing and dance. They are happier and more energetic than the living.

Tim Burton reminds us that this is a gothic story and actually reflects the truth. It is said that this story was inspired by a Russian-Jewish folk tale in which two men jokingly put a ring on a stick in the woods that look like a finger and do the wedding dance as a mockery. Unexpectedly, the ground shakes and opens up to reveal a corpse bride who took the wedding ceremony seriously and demands her right to be his bride.

My favourite scene from the movie

The piano scene is one of the special scenes in the movie. Emily expresses her resentment with music. She plays the low notes on the piano. It means she is angry and sad. Victor starts to accompany her with high notes. He means to apologize through music. Finally, Emily forgives him. They don’t talk to each other until her hand leaves her body and plays the piano by itself. They just play the piano.

Corpse Bride: Pardon my enthusiasm.

Victor Van Dort: I like your enthusiasm.

I also want to share Victor and Emily’s piano duet which is one of my favorite scenes!


The soundtracks of the movie are great, and the songs also tell the story very well.

Mr. and Mrs. Van Dort: We’ll go right into the heights of society

Mr. Everglot: It couldn’t be worse? I’m afraid I disagree. It could be land-rich bankrupt aristocracy, without a penny to their name…just like you…and me.

-From the song “According to Plan”

Shooting Techniques

Set of Corpse Bride

Now let’s talk about the techniques used in filming! The film was shot using stop-motion technique. This is a very demanding technique. It is said that exactly 300 puppets were used. Tim Burton first designed the appearance of these puppets, and then Spanish artist Carlos Grangel studied the characters but he didn’t digress dramatically from Tim Burton’s drawings. It is a technique that really requires effort and creativity. The gestures and movements of the characters were so fluent that there were some who did not believe that it was stop-motion. In fact, the reason they were so successful was that they used a new technique. The puppets’ heads were controlled with minute gears and keys. This technique was very new at that time and was not used much. Corpse Bride was the first stop-motion movie to be shot digitally. The lights and shadows are also well-adjusted.

If I touch a burning candle, I can feel no pain. If you cut me with a knife, it’s still the same. And I know her heart is beating. And I know that I am dead. Yet the pain here that I feel Try and tell me it’s not real. For it seems that I still have a tear to shed.’’

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