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Headscratchers: Corpse Bride
  • So are the dead people ghosts or just animated (no pun intended) corpses? If it is the latter, does that mean nothing actually dies (since Emily turns into butterflies when her "spirit" is released, it seems her soul is still connected to her body; and they actually are senitent)? If they are just ghosts, why are children stuck in the Underworld, did they have anything that would prevent them from moving on?
    • On second thought, the dead "children" are probably just freaky midgets...
    • They probably are not ghosts as ghosts would not be decomposing. It is kind of haunting that so many people apparently have issues and cannot rest in peace. They look fairly happy, though.
  • What the hell happens to Emily in the end? Did she go to heaven? But nothing in the movie suggests that there IS a heaven in the described world - it seems like everyone just go to the Underworld and continue to live (to undie?) there forever. I mean, you would expect cute little children to go to heaven, if there was one...
    • What? If that really was the only place people go, they'd be crowded a thousand years ago, man! There's obviously a heaven, and souls just stay there in the underworld as long as they have any unfinished business. And that's why she... vanished in the air.
      • You can`t tell if it is crowded or not, we don`t know the size of the underworld. Also, what unfinished business could Scraps have?
      • Waiting for someone perhaps?
      • No idea, but we'd probably see more neanderthals and old-timey stuff if that was the only underworld... the oldest ghosts there seem to be those two generals. And... guys, we're talking millions, or at least thousands of years of death here, unless the underworld is infnite (which it doesn't seem to be), the place seems a bit too underpopulated.
      • Underworld could very well be infinite to support a potentially infinite number of dead. Neanderthals and old-timers would probably prefer to hang out with people from their own time, and that is why you don`t see them in the movie.
      • I assumed that the beings in the Underworld were waiting around for someone else to join them in death before moving on to the next world. It makes sense if you think about some of the inhabitants of the Underworld. The skeleton children may be waiting for their parents or their friends, Victor's dog was likely waiting for him, and Emily was waiting for Lord Barkis.
    • She gets reincarnated. As V&V's KID!
    • Or she moves to Halloween Land
    • Or she was, in fact, just a bunch of insects in a giant human suit.
    • I interpreted it as something akin to reaching nirvana myself.
    • Butterflies are supposed to be a symbol of resurrection. She gets to start over with a new life and a clean slate.
    • According to the Q&A page on IMDB, the filmmakers were trying to imply that she moved on to Heaven; they chose a generic symbol of the human soul (the butterfly) to avoid tying it to any one religion.
  • In a related theme, what happens to Barkis? It doesn't seem you can actually harm the dead. But I guess living in the Underworld, where everyone shuns you, is still a Fate Worse than Death...
    • Mrs. Plum used him in a stew? Imagine being ripped apart and used for food while still conscious...
    • They could spend an eternity beating the heck out of him.
  • A minor thing, but it has been bugging me — where does Emily's bouquet go in the church when she's not holding it? She walks up to Victor in the church holding it, then it vanishes while she's saying her vows and during the Barkis/Victor fight, then it reappears once she's walking away from the reunited Victor and Victoria. But we never actually see her set it down or drop it.
  • And, of course, the kicker: Victor's parents get put on a carriage randomly in the middle of the movie and and are never seen again, dead or alive.
  • Are the dead essentially ghosts? Just waiting around until passing on to another realm? Also, what happens when that underground city fills to the brim with dead people? What happens then?
    • My guess is that the underworld cannot fill up, because it exists outside of time and space. It is most likely infinite.
    • That city isn't the whole underworld—it's the underworld for the people who died and were buried in that specific town! Remember, everyone who came "upstairs" for the wedding was recognized by their family and friends, and when Victor tries to get Emily to take him home to "meet his parents," she asks him "Where are they buried?"
    • They probably are not ghosts, but corpses. Why would the ghost form be rotting and decomposing?
  • Exactly how "dead" do you have to be to go to the underworld. When that guy driving the carriage died, he headed there immediately. But Victor's dog, Scraps, is just a bunch of bones. Did they wait until he decayed into a pile of bones for him to get there?
    • No, I think you arrive at least roughly about the time you die. You just happen to continue to rot while you're down there. Remember, the Bride's got a maggot living inside her. Scraps has probably been down there for a few years.
    • Some of the characters' appearances imply how they died. For example, the "dwarf" has a sword through his chest. Maybe Scraps had a funeral pyre dedicated to him.
  • Can the dead be "killed", as in no longer moving or thinking? Do you think what the dead might do to the recently deceased Barkis would kill him?
  • If the dead are not allowed to go onto the surface of the living, why was the Bride's hand seen sticking out of the ground. She must have been laying there and just an arm sticking out would count.
    • I imagine this has something to do with her vow to wait for her true love to come set her free. You can't exactly do that if you're buried completely in the ground.
      • I always took her hand sticking out as being the remains of her body after Barkis killed her and stole her family's jewelry, and Victor 'proposing' to her brought her soul back to her body so she could track him down and 'kill' him...
  • Would the dead continue to age like that old skeleton guy in the library, or stay the way they are?
    • I just assumed Elder Gutknecht was very old when he died, then rotted away to a skeleton.
    • Elder Gutknecht seemed to be from a previous generation of dead humans, perhaps a Homo Habilus? He is, rather literally, the Elder of Underworld, as he's been around longer than everyone else when they were alive...?
  • Could just any living thing end up in the world of the dead, like Scraps? What about plants, insects, fungi, bacteria, algae?
    • There were trees in the underworld, wasn't there? There has to be a lake somewhere with algae. Just because you don't see it, it doesn't mean it's nonexistent.
  • Speaking of animals, why can Maggot and Black Widow talk, and the other animals can't? Emily seems able to interpret Scraps's barks, but that's not the same as speaking plain English like Maggot and BW.
    • It gets weirder when you compare Corpse Bride with its spirital ancestor, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Nightmare is technically Disney (a cousin of the animated canon, if you will), so you would expect it to having talking animals (image what Zero would sound like), but it doesn't. Perhaps it's so Emily can have some friends to talk to? Then why not other corpses?
    • I figured that Scraps was a dead dog while Maggot and BW were (somehow) natural denizens of the underworld — that is, beings that didn't have to die to get there. Scraps couldn't speak English (or any other human language) in life, so it carried into death, whereas Maggot and BW had always existed as supernatural English-speaking creatures.
  • Why didn't Emily ever try her luck with another dead person? They can't ALL be taken, why wait for a living dude? This works in the original story, as the Corpse Bride is the only dead person, but not when there's other dead people! What about Bonejangles, he seems fun to hang out with. Actually, that's another thing; why couldn't Tim develop Bonejangles' character a bit more and had a Pair the Spares moment? Yeah, it's a cop-out, but it has potential.
    • Poor Emily must be the type to miss the obvious "wait for a dead single guy" and insist on getting married to a living one. As for Bonejangles — well, all I can say there is that Tim obviously had no idea how popular the guy would get. Must be Danny Elfman and his magic voice.
    • It also occurs to me that her vow might have trapped her into marrying a living man, depending on how she actually worded it (i.e., did she just say "wait for [my] true love to come set [me] free," as in Remains of the Day, or did she state that she'd wait for someone aboveground to propose?)
  • Why does everyone in the underworld act like Victor is a giant jerk for not wanting to be married to Emily and for trying to get back to Victoria? I'm aware that, in universe, it can be justified by that just being the way the dead think, but it's still completely absurd and seems only there to make everyone guilt Victor into accepting Emily. He married her accidentally and already had a fiancée. Emily's behavior (while understandable given her past) is irrational. It's not even entirely because she's dead - if a similar situation happened with a living girl it would be obvious her behavior was irrational.
    • They didn't seem that bad to me. However, the main reason is probably solidarity. Emily is very well-liked, and everybody who hurts her is looked down upon.
  • Does it bother anybody else that Victoria doesn't get a chance to go after Victor and Emily? You have to think about it from the perspective of it being a film - in-story, it makes sense, but the story wasn't born into existence, it was written, and it could have been written differently. It feels like the story goes out of its way to push Emily and Victor together, and suppresses Victoria in order to do so.
    • Less tension and eventual confusion when the dead show up for Victor and Emily's wedding. If there were a way for Victoria to go after Victor, it would be common(ish) knowledge.
  • Why on earth is Barkis attending Victor and Victoria's wedding?! He seems to be there just so that he can swoop in and take Victoria when Victor disappears with Emily, but he doesn't make any attempt on Victor's life or try to get him out of the way. My brother and I tried to restructure the film with this in mind and we thought it'd be a great idea to have Barkis be the one to suggest Victor practice in the woods - it opens the plot hole of, how could he know Emily was waiting for him, but he makes him a more effective villain and at least explains what he's doing there, and those kinds of plot holes are all over the place in Burton's films.
    • 1) He could have waiting for Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace moment to deliver a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • 2) Marrying Victoria was never his original goal, it was coincidence that he was there to take Victor's place. As one of the "upper crust" it was only polite/sociable (and smart) for him to attend a wedding of his peers/social group and use that opportunity to scout out potential bride (WITH a fortune, he did not know Victoria's family was broke.).
    • 3) Emily may not have been factored at all. Pure dumb luck/fate seems to have led Victor to her. After all, if Barkis wanted Victor dead, he could watched, waited, and slit Victor's throat/backstab the second they were out of sight.
  • The ending's great and all, but....Victor and Victoria can't get married. Last anybody knew, Victoria got married to Lord Barkis. Who is dead, but how is anybody supposed to know, since his corpse was carried off? I'm sure it could be worked up, but it bugs me they couldn't clear that up better before the end to at least reassure us that the couple really could live happily ever after.
    • I doubt anyone will be able to pull up legal documents enforcing that fact. In any case, it would be considered pretty trivial since the dead just got up and walked through town. It'd be all too easy to get people to believe that Barkis died before anything could be resolved. As to why they didn't show that, it would've broken the pace.
    • There were living people in attendance, you know. I'm sure they'd be willing to back up that Barkis had died right before their eyes.
  • What haunts the other dead people we got to see? What keeps them stuck in the town and prevents them from becoming butterflies? Why cannot they go to heaven? A lot of people seem to have a lot of issues and unfinished businesses. And if they are troubled, why do they seem to be fairly happy?
    • Emily was waiting to finally get married, everyone else could have something just as mundane they're waiting for. They could be waiting for parents, spouses, grandchildren, mastering their craft, the chance to punish someone who wronged them, anything.
  • Rather minor headscratcher, but during the scene in the beginning where Victor messes up the wedding rehearsal, he accidentally sets Mrs. Everglot's dress on fire, resulting in everyone scrambling to put it out until Barkis finally does so... by pouring wine on it. Wouldn't that make the fire worse?

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