Et tu, Brute?
Famous last words indeed. Today is the Ides of March, the day upon which Julius Caesar bit it, just as he was told he would. Ah well, small loss. As one of my favorite authors often notes, assassination is, in fact, natural causes for a king. I assume that applies to emperors as well.
That’s not the actual point here though. The point is that those famous last words were spoken in french by the emperor of Rome in a play written by an english playwright.
That crazy Shakespeare.
The Remains of the Day
I might have mentioned seeing The Corpse Bride recently. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, wondering what it was that made it something of a failure in comparison to A Nightmare Before Christmas. I might be a bit late to the game here, on account of being pretty late to the game, but that doesn’t make my observations any less accurate.
First and foremost, I’d like to point out that I also watched all the bonus material that came on the DVD. If you’re at all interested in how movies like this are made, you’d be wrong to miss these extras. There’s some amazing (and sometimes surprising) stuff going on behind the scenes of this movie.
The technological wizardry was amazing. The way the faces could be manipulated by sticking tiny screwdrivers in their ears and dialing up dimples, smiles, frowns and grimaces was light-years ahead of the hundreds of heads required to make Jack Skellington talk.
The use of relatively inexpensive digital SLRs to shoot the stop motion photography was equally light-years ahead of the film development required for Nightmare.
What wasn’t light-years ahead was the musical work. In general I really dig Danny Elfman’s work, but in this movie, I found myself distracted enough by poor decisions made in the musical aspect of the movie that it diminished the experience. What comes to mind is the musicial number “The Remains of the Day” in which the (very important) back-story of Emily, the Corpse Bride, is revealed. It is so poorly engineered that its almost impossible to understand. Muddy describes it. Muddy as my bass playing.
What wasn’t light-years ahead was character development. No empathy for Victoria’s plight of suddenly finding herself in love with someone she just met, only to find he’s married to a corpse. No empathy for Victor, suddenly finding himself married to a well-stacked and nicely corseted corpse, for that matter. No hatred for the venomous Lord Barkas. No life.
The story itself is pretty good, in fact. It was the lack of any identification with the characters and some poor production choices that made it so one dimensional and flat. And it’s too bad, because it would have been as wicked as Shakespeare’s sense of humor.