Original le 6 décembre 2006
Ce film est un chef d'œuvre éternel dans son noir et blanc qui en devient une vraie palette de couleurs. Ne cherchez pas les allusions vous ne saurez jamais les trouver toutes et vous vous sentiriez bien frustré d'en manquer une pelletée. N'allez pas vous mêler les méninges dans les fils plus qu'entrecroisés de ces marionnettes qui jouent aux dessins animés. Une vraie Danse Macabre dans la haute et noble société ruinée et une marche nuptiale en plein dans un cimetière, entre les tombes, les cadavres et les squelettes. Un malencontreux mariage malvenu a fait traverser la ligne de démarcation entre la vie et la mort à un pauvre jeune homme prétendument au bord du mariage. Il faut réparer l'erreur et libérer la mariée funèbre en un vol de papillons et marier la mariée terrestre dans une envolée d'émotion. Mais les personnages sont si vrais, si raides, si démantibulés qu'ils en ont l'air d'être des tas d'os déboîtés dansant dans une chaise roulante. Rien ne résiste au caustique humour plus que noir de Tim Burton qui lamine tout ce qui bouge du côté de l'ordre établi et de la tradition, et mitraille tout ce qui frétille du côté de l'innovation. On innove dans la mort et on enterre dans la vie. Mais rien de grossier ou de morbide dans tout cela. Bien au contraire, un profond romantisme vente dans les cursives et les coulisses avec un brin de nostalgie slave un peu triste dans les sombres nuées d'un ciel bas comme une poutre à suicide.
Mise à jour le 19 octobre 2015
This animated film that uses puppets and other means to build a full show, dancing, singing and haunting included, is remarkable. Remarkable for its pleasantly morbid humor and subject. Remarkable for its caustically social criticism. Remarkable for its mesmerizing loving young characters. These are the victims of everything in the world. Of their parents, of their social position, of their young age, of their romanticism, of their naiveté and of course of all the social climbers and social vultures our beautiful human society hosts and even cherishes. It is true without these social escalating climbers life would be humdrum and tasteless. With them it tastes like mud and there is always some hullabaloo around them.
The plot is superbly simple. The son of a rich bourgeois family is planned by his parents to marry the daughter of a pauperized noble family who is planned by her parents to marry the son of a rich bourgeois family. They fall in love at first sight, and first touch of a piano keyboard, which is exceptional for an arranged marriage. And then difficulties pile up because a social vulture comes up and wants the girl since he is pauperized and badly informed. He thinks the noble family is rich and he wants to put his hands (and both of them of course) on the girl and her family’s fortune.
Then, due to some local and perverse circumstances the poor young man ends up in a cemetery and he gets, by total accident, married to a dead girl, hence a corpse “till death us parts.” But this clause is difficult to implement. The rest is to be discovered by yourself and your doppelganger because we all have a doppelganger who would like to visit the other side of the mirror, the other side of reality, the dark side of the moon and even the invisible side of our psyche. I know a lot of people who would love to visit the underground underworld just for fun, provided they can come back. Though coming back is the most difficult part of the game, and please do not fall in love with anyone on that other side because then you’ll have to join them for ever “as soon as death us unites.”
But the most beautiful and fascinating part of this film is of course the animation. I will not be technical but the “puppets” are perfects especially the skeletons dressed or undressed, dancing or not, singing or howling, playing bone percussions or bone saxophone. They can fall down on the ground and scatter all their bones and then in an instant get back up and reassemble the jigsaw puzzle of their ribs, phalanges and knuckles. There is some kind of a magical trick in that. I must say that the dancing skeletons can be alluring and even exciting. But please no S…, we’re not necessarily English, but we’re dead. Too bad because a bag of bones can be very surprising at times.
The music is of course great. This is a Tim Burton film, mind you, And the music is essential to make the bone hallucination dance and sing. But the music is also essential to lure the social escalating climber into drinking the poison that was not intended for him, and he will not end like the girl he killed, “always a bride’s maid but never the bride,” he will end “always a bridegroom but never a married man.” Poor chap!
Finally it is important to know that this film is not recommended for sensitive people who should also be sensible and avoid the morbid fear and lethal angst they may feel in that funeral of a wedding, in that deadly descent to Limbo from which there is no way back. Once an underworld resident, always an underworld resident. Ask Orpheus about it. You will recognize that fascination for death that is the hallmark of Mr. Tim Burton. It is why we like him, true enough, but it is also why we come back all the time to be flagellated with bones, corpses, rotting flesh and maggots. I must say that the spider seamstresses are quite a perverse, obnubilating but so sugary-sweet-honey-pie vision. We could accept to become macabre diabetic and an overdose of that graveyard paraphernalia would lead us to the bliss of a symbolical and orgasmic death directly there in our armchairs.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU