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  • Social Criticism Gets Animated. Satire and Humor in Corpse Bride (2005) by Timothy Burton
  • Bakkalár
  • This essay explores social criticism and the way how, by means of satire and humor, it is introduced in the animated fantasy movie that was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film in the 78th Academy Awards, Corpse Bride (2005). The essay provides evidence that its chief director, Timothy Burton, explores the faults of society through all aspects of this highly entertaining stop-motion picture: setting, characterisation, structure, imagery, and language.
    The essay discusses in details the issues about human society in general and Victorian culture in particular that are criticized in this movie. Some of these issues, like hierarchies and hierarchical thinking or monarchy surviving at the cost of arranged marriages with the representatives of the new class, are traditionally criticized matters. Consequently, a few of Corpse Bride’s characters, like, for instance, the future oligarchs, the Van Dorts, and the bankrupt aristocrats, the Everglots, who have similar interests and likewise live completely on account of public servitude, are stock characters. Some of the criticized in the movie issues, however, like criticism of the marriage tradition and the frightening image of the afterlife, are very fresh and engaging topics.
    I look at this film mainly from a Marxist viewpoint for thus I can easily relate the covert subject matter of Burton’s work to central Marxist themes, like, for example, the conflicts of class interest between the rising and the falling classes during the transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism. I also use devices from narratology to demonstrate how Burton’s Corpse Bride treats the salient structures that exist within all narratives and how he treats the elements of a fairy tale. As not much has been written on Corpse Bride, I rely on secondary sources about literary theory in general (such as Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory by Peter Barry), social and anthropological criticism (such as Primitive Marriage: An Inquiry into the Origin of the Form of Capture in Marriage Ceremonies by John Ferguson McLennan), and literature about fairy tales and fantasy.

  • 3.6.2009

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