Have you ever noticed that in Tim Burton’s world, the macabre is… *cuddly*?
Since we got our financial situation squared away a few weeks ago, Fridays have been movie day for Valerie and me. We both have Friday off, so we can go into town for lunch and a movie and get matinee prices to boot. Finally we can see all those movies we’ve been missing on the big screen! We’ve done this twice so far; Valerie’s paid for the movie and I”ve paid for lunch, each of us out of our newly alotted allowance. Unfortunately, with matinee priceing, I’m losing out. Each week I’ve been totaled, and this week, Valerie had enough left over to buy a pair of gloves. I think next week, *I’m* paying for the movie.
Last week we saw *[Wallace and Grommit](http://www.wandg.com/)*, which was excellent, and today we saw *[Corpse Bride](http://corpsebridemovie.warnerbros.com/)*, which was… excellent. What is it with stop animation these days?
*Corpse Bride* immediately brings reminiscence of *The Nightmare Before Christmas*, which it should. Tim Burton, ghost story, stop animation… sound familiar? Of course, words like “nightmare” and “corpse” were enough when I was a kid to indicate that it was the sort of movie that Christians ought not to watch. I think it was the mid- to late- eighties when the entire evangelical world as a body turned against the whole idea of Halloween. Almost overnight, ghosts, scarecrows, jack-o-lanterns, and dancing skeletons went from cute, wholesome fun… to *evil*. With some good reason, I suppose. I mean, what has what fellowship has Christ with Belial? What business do Christians have supporting a ghoulish praise of what is, in essence, Satanic? So suddenly, *[A Charlie Brown Christmas](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059026/)* was fine; *[It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060550/)* was not.
Or perhaps not. It’s one thing to say we don’t want our children dressing up as Freddy Kruger and demanding candy, let alone watching movies about him. But did we *really* all ban Charlie Brown? No Great Pumpkin? No “All I got was a rock”?
Sorry. Rabbit trail. Nevertheless, anybody who’s broken through the barrier and actually **watched** *Nightmare* has simiar feelings about, “I”m JACK! The pumpkin king!” With Tim Burton, the macabre… isn’t. If anything, it’s cute.
*Corpse Bride* provides a delightful combination of a traditional ghost story and a traditional love story. Victor Van Dort is engaged to be married to Victoria Everglot, whom he has never met. Their parents have arranged the whole thing. Victor’s parents are the nouveaux riche, forcing their son to marry up. Victoria’s parents are the old, established, lack-of-money, forcing their daughter to marry down to save their finances. Naturally, the kids are perfect for each other.
Unfortunately, Victor is a tortured, creative soul. You know the type. Plays piano. Draws. Stutters when nervous. Can’t remember his vows on the day before his wedding to a complete stranger. Of course, if I was being married by Christopher Lee, I’d be a little jumpy too.
Victor runs out into the forest stumbling terribly over his lines, and just happens to recite them right while placing the ring on a low hanging tree branch, er finger.
Hijinks ensue. Victor runs away; his corpse bride chases after him; word gets out about another woman… you get the picture.
Two things in particular stand out in *Corpse Bride*. First is the Corpse Bride herself. You thought Johnny Depp was the leading actor in the film, didn’t you? Helena Bonham Carter takes the cake. Something about that dead girl… Victoria is perfect for Victor, yet… the Corpse Bride is beautiful, full, melancholy. Go figure.
The second is the scene where the dead come up to the land of the living (sort of mandatory, wasn’t it?). It’s not what you’d expect. It’s a small town. There’s only one cemetary. You think your old friends don’t know you? It’s decidedly lacking in frightfulness.
In fact the whole movie is lacking in frightfulness. It’s all been replaced with charm.
So go see *Corpse Bride*. It’s well worth it. The only thing I can manage to say against it is that it’s too short – only 74 minutes long. And while you’re at it, rent a copy of *The Nightmare Before Christmas*. And while you’re at it, sit down for yourself and see if you can think of a Christian philosophy that shuts out witchcraft and all fascination with evil, but still lets us watch *It’s the Great Pumpkin*. [This](http://www.ransomfellowship.org/D_Halloween.html) might be a good start (HT: [Boar’s Head Tavern](http://www.boarsheadtavern.com/archives/2005/10/13/18034158.html))