Corpse Bride, often referred to as Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, is a 2005 British-American stop-motion-animated fantasy film directed by Mike Johnson and Tim Burton. The plot is set in a fictional Victorian era village in Europe. Johnny Depp led a cast as the voice of Victor, while Helena Bonham Carter voiced Emily, the title character. Corpse Bride is the third stop-motion feature film produced by Burton and the first directed by him (the previous two films, The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, were directed by Henry Selick). This is also the first stop-motion feature from Burton that was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It was dedicated to Joe Ranft who died during production.
The film was nominated for the 78th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which also starred Bonham Carter. It was shot with Canon EOS-1D Mark II digital SLRs, rather than the 35mm film cameras used for Burton’s previous stop-motion film The Nightmare Before Christmas (source: Wikipedia).
Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria’s (Emily Watson) families have arranged their marriage. Though they like each other, Victor is nervous about the ceremony. While he’s in a forest practicing his lines for the wedding, a tree branch becomes a hand that drags him to the land of the dead. It belongs to Emily, who was murdered after eloping with her love and wants to marry Victor. Victor must get back aboveground before Victoria marries the villainous Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant) (source: IMDb).
13 Things you probably didn’t know about Corpse Bride:
- The puppets used neither of the industry standards of replaceable heads (like those used on The Nightmare Before Christmas) or replaceable mouths (like those used by Aardman Studios in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) but instead used precision crafted clockwork heads, adjusted by hidden keys. This allowed for unprecedented subtlety, but was apparently even more painstaking than the already notoriously arduous animation. One animator even reported having recurring nightmares of adjusting his own facial expression in this fashion.
- The puppets were 25-28 cm tall and some of the stages were so large that animators could actually fit through the set doors with minimal crouching.
- The maggot’s voice, mannerisms and facial appearance are an impersonation of Peter Lorre.
- The first original stop motion animated film Tim Burton has directed or produced since The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
- Multiple, identical puppets had to be created so that more scenes could be accomplished in a shorter period of time. In all, fourteen puppets of the Bride and Victor were created, and thirteen were created of Victoria.
- Danny Elfman originally wrote the part of BoneJangles looking for another musician to sing it, but after failing to find a voice that fit, Tim Burton asked Elfman if he would sing it himself. The result was so brutal on his vocal chords that Elfman was left hoarse whenever he had to voice the character.
- When Victor plays the piano, he leans back and the nameplate says “Harryhausen”, a reference to stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen.
- Had a 55-week shoot, during which 109,440 individually animated frames had to be set up and filmed.
- There is a character named “Elder Gutknecht.” Translated from German to English, his name means “Elder Good Servant.”
- The puppets were made from stainless steel armatures covered with silicone skin.
- Bonejangles and his skeleton band are partly inspired by the cartoon The Skeleton Dance (1929) but are also heavily influenced by Cab Calloway and his band as they appeared in rotoscoped form in several Betty Boop cartoons. The piano player wears shades like Ray Charles, and his movements are based on Charles’ mannerisms. The character BoneJangles is based on the famous dancer Bill Robinson who was called “Bojangles.”
- The film is dedicated to the memory of Joe Ranft.
- When Bonejangles is telling Emily’s story, his shadow appears on the wall as the shadow of Emily’s groom. The shadow has Lord Barkis’ profile. (source: mostly IMDb)
See the trailer here: