Princesses Watch Corpse Bride on Halloween

Halloween is here at last. After they finish trick-or-treating for the night, many people like to curl up in front of a scary movie full of intrigue, death, and gore. Princess fans don't always like being scared, which is why we have Tim Burton's 2005 classic Corpse Bride, which is also full of intrigue, death, and gore, but without any of the scary parts. Corpse Bride is more about the emotion and less about cheap scares. It has all the beauty, music, and romance of an animated princess movie, but it's also a moving ghost story with a gothic Victorian setting, making it perfect for Halloween. I loved this movie so much the first time I saw it that I watched it every single day for months.

Corpse Bride is the story of Emily, a young woman obsessed with romance and adventure whose life was taken on her wedding night. Even from the Land of the Dead, her princess spirit cannot be destroyed. She leaves her bony hand sticking up from the ground in the hopes that one day someone would remember her and love her enough to give her the princess wedding she's always dreamed of. Unfortunately, the man who places the ring on her bony finger is Victor, a timid mama's boy practicing his vows to his betrothed, Victoria. He interacts with his environment as he practices, imagining trees as Victoria's parents and what he thinks is a stick as Victoria's finger. As he completes his vows and inadvertently places the band on Emily's finger, she rises from the grave and drags him down to the Land of the Dead to join her in holy matrimony.

The inspiration for Corpse Bride comes from actual events that are far more shocking and horrifying than the story that Tim Burton used. Like many other inspirational tales, Corpse Bride's origins come from the struggles of the Jewish people. In 19th century Russia, anti-Semites would murder Jewish brides on the way to their wedding, and they would later be buried in their wedding dress. Sadly, Tim Burton did not include the Jewish influence into his story. Victor's ceremony was performed by a Christian priest, and Emily's was later performed by an old skeleton. The reveal about Emily's murder had nothing to do with religion and was instead about greed, making the movie's villain fall rather flat. Nobody watches this movie for the villain, though.

What's appealing about Emily is that she is a sympathetic character who just wants to be loved. She's feminine and beautiful and refuses to let a little thing like death get in her way even if her eyeball has a tendency to fall out every so often. Her animal friends are a maggot that lives in her hollow eye socket and a black widow spider. They boost her ego as she sings the haunting and emotional song "Tears to Shed" about how she stills desires to be loved from the afterlife. Her adorable naïveté makes her blind to Victor's fear of her even after she literally chases him into her grave. In the end, she ultimately realizes that her eagerness to get married IS standing in the way of a happy couple who truly loves each other and still has their whole lives ahead of them. It reminds me of the story of "The Little Mermaid," who must give herself up for the sake of the person she loves.

Other things that stand out about this movie are the hauntingly beautiful score and the fluid stop-motion animation that took ten years to complete. Emily's veil and train billow in the wind as she dances in the moonlight, and Victor plays a gorgeous piano solo the first time he meets Victoria. Everything about the movie is breathtakingly gorgeous. Even the Land of the Dead is a fun and colorful party of carefree skeletons and corpses. It also has many hilarious gags that will leave you with a smile on your face including a clever Gone With the Wind reference. The pure simplicity of the final scene is so moving between the emotional impact, evocative score, and elegant animation that I cry almost every time I watch it.

This Halloween, don't give yourself nightmares watching stories about a bunch of screaming teenagers running away from a serial killer. Be a princess and watch a hauntingly beautiful ghost story about a woman who still believes in love even after losing everything she has. Dressing up as Emily is also the perfect way to look both spooky and feminine when you go trick-or-treating. Here's the costume I made of her when the movie came out.


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