The Corpse Bride: The Beauty of The Dead
In Tim Burton’s film The Corpse Bride, viewers are transported into a town where everything has a gray undertone, and I would argue that the people are the cause of this situation. The first characters we meet are dull and mundane; not much room for individuality. The characters are like clocks cursed to repeat the same tired rhythm until they die. Death brings me to the main point of this article, in the world of the dead things couldn’t be more alive and vibrant. Tim Burton is known for challenging the more conventional ways of thinking, and has always tried to allow his audience the opportunity for their imagination to run wild. This is shown in his other films like Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, and Nightmare Before Christmas.
Death in many forms of literature is at times looked at as bleak and torturous, but Burton creates a dimension of energy and vitality in the land of the dead. The jazzy infused musical number, Remains of the Day performed by Danny Elfman, coupled with a wide spectrum of colors helped change the viewers perception of the underworld. Burton was not the only creative genius to make life after death seem more desirable than life on earth, but he is arguably one of the geniuses who best captured the beauty and tragedy of it.
When the audience sees such a strong contrast in being a part of the world of the living, and the land of the dead, it challenges the onlooker to believe that death can be much better than your life on earth. That is not to say that life on earth is full of sadness and disappointment, we can see the love between Victor and Victoria is definitely something that makes the world a better place. Burton is also exceptional when it comes to finding beauty in tragedy. Emily, the corpse bride, came from heartbreak and tragedy, but she is by far the most beautiful and dynamic character in this film, and one can argue that the true beauty of this character comes from the tragedy she lived. Her beauty came from within, and was able to shine through corpsy exterior showing Victor and the audience how beautiful she truly was. The moments when she was fueled by anger and jealousy only helped create a more “living” person which Victor began to see she is more alive than anyone he really every came in contact with. It was at that point he realized that he could truly see himself with her eternally.
Another beautiful thing that Burton showed his audience in this film was that it is not impossible find love in strange situations. Victor, in the beginning of the film, believed that Victoria was his one and only, but as the film progressed he started to see the beauty in Emily and fall for her. Maybe it’s because of proximity, or maybe it’s because Victoria was now married to the dreaded Lord Barkis. Regardless of the reasoning behind it Victor was willing to take his own life to be eternally bonded to Emily.
It is also very amazing how the taking of your own life can be considered one of the ultimate signs of love for another person. This is not an uncommon thing in stories, the most notable one being the Shakespearean play Romeo & Juliet. To think that something as painful as suicide could be considered the greatest act of love makes people wonder what you are truly willing to do for the person you love. You can find beauty in uncertainty and that is something to be admired.
Another beautiful parallel between Burton’s’ Corpse Bride, and Shakespeare’s’ Romeo & Juliet is that the main female protagonist is always faced with the ultimatum of sacrificing her chance at happiness for the man she loved. Juliet took her own life after realizing that Romeo had taken his life. Emily gave up her “happily ever after” so that Victor could go on living with his first love Victoria. Would these two stories be considered so tragically beautiful if the women got their happy ending? Probably not, because their is beauty in sacrifice and beauty in hurting.
Critical thinkers should know that it is true that beauty can be found in some of the most unexpected places. Like in the breaking heart of a bride, or the madness created when you realize your husband is married to a corpse. Burton successfully captured the beauty of love lost, love taken, and love given in this film.
For those who enjoy films I challenge you to find beauty in places people would tend to write off as dark, or unpleasant you might just find something beautiful that you can call your own.
It is only right that with this article a new way of thinking is sparked. Do we truly understand what beauty is? Can we make a list of all things that embody beauty? Will your list be like her list or his list? No, of course it won’t, but that does not make it any less beautiful. Continue to seek out the things you find beautiful, and hold them dear to your heart. Never let them go.
“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, and it seems that I still have a tear to shed.” -Emily, The Corpse Bride
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