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Headscratchers / Corpse Bride

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    Ghosts or Zombies? 
  • So are the dead people ghosts or just animated corpses? If it is the latter, does that mean nothing actually dies? If they are just ghosts, why are children stuck in the Underworld, did they have anything that would prevent them from moving on?
    • 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.

    He Didn't Answer the Question 
  • Just before the Remains of the Day musical number, Victor asks, "Who are you? Where am I?". Bonejangles answer with the story of Emily, which Victor didn't ask about, without even so much as, you know, basically telling him he's in the Underworld.
    • Bonejangles may have been answering him in a roundabout way: Victor is here because of Emily, so Bonejangles tells Victor her story and uses it as an excuse to sing a jive tune while he's at it. By telling him the story of Emily's murder, the obvious follow-up to that is that this must be where dead people go, especially since everyone else around them is also clearly dead. Therefore, he's letting Victor put two and two together instead of answering him outright, probably because he and the rest of the lively undead folk are delighted with the novelty of the timid and very much alive Victor and they can't resist messing with him.

    Ears are Necessary, but Not Vocal Chords? 
  • Alright, we can admit that even skeletons with no more vocal chords can still talk, those with no eyes can still see, and so on. Alright, we can. But then what's the deal with Bonejangles stating in his song that, "of course", he's just addressing those of the deads who"'ve still got an ear" ? They can sing even in skeleton form, but for some reason they need medically functional ears ? How does that work ?
    • He probably wasn't being serious. He probably needed something to rhyme, and also wanted to emphasize how everybody has decayed over the years. He himself has no ears, but can hear just fine.

    Is There a Heaven? 
  • What 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 goes to the Underworld and continue to live there forever.
    • 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.
    • Maybe 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.
    • 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.

    What Happened to Barkis? 
  • In a related theme, what happens to Barkis? It doesn't seem you can actually harm the dead. But maybe 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.
    • Tried for murder and sentenced to (after)life in prison.

    Where's the Bouquet? 
  • 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.

    Missing Parents 
  • Victor's parents get put on a carriage randomly in the middle of the movie and and are never seen again, dead or alive.
    • Much like Victoria's parents, they disappear from the movie once they've served their purpose and it makes sense for them not to be there. The Van Dorts promised the Everglots that they would find and return with Victor for the wedding, so they'd have no reason to try and go back without him. As to what happened to them, it's unlikely being in a carriage without its driver would've been enough to lead to their deaths. It's more likely they just realized that Mayhew had vanished at some point and sought out some other transport or gone to look for Victor on foot, with plans to return to the village sooner or later.

  • 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?

    Death Partners 
  • 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!
    • 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.
    • 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?)
    • It's possible that's just the 'rules' - you can't exactly marry two dead people in real life after all....

    Not Being a Necrophiliac = Jerk? 
  • 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.
    • To start, no one in the underworld ever treats Victor like a jerk for how he treats Emily. The closest anyone gets to that is Elder Gutknecht, who mentions once that he agrees with Emily about Victor lying to her to sneak back to Victoria — but Elder Gutknecht doesn't know Victor's side of the story. No one does, not even Emily, because Victor never actually tells them. He initially leads Emily on to try and get back to the living world, and then he makes a vague appeal to her that the "marriage" was a mistake and "just can't work", but he never comes out and says that what Emily took as a proposal was really him practicing his wedding vows to another woman with no knowledge that Emily was there. No doubt he would've garnered a lot more sympathy if he'd let on that that was the case from the beginning.

    Why Attend the Wedding? 
  • Why 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.
    • He was likely there just to scout out the ceremony and see what useful information he could glean from it; he didn't plan on doing anything before he understood who was involved. He got lucky that Victor fumbled his vows to such a degree that Barkis could upstage him, but he wouldn't have lost anything even if that had been the case. At worst, he gets to attend the ceremony, meet other members of Victoria's upper-class family who could be eligible for him to marry, and enjoy a free meal in the process.

    Technically Bigamy 
  • 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?
    • It's 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.
    • 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.
    • Both of the above points are true and would probably take care of the matter easily. However, if for some reason that isn't enough, there is a fallback: Victoria can simply have the marriage annulled. The dead rose up in the middle of the wedding dinner right after the ceremony and Barkis "vanished" around the same time, so it would be easy for her to petition for an annulment on the grounds of non-consummation. Then, from a legal standpoint, her marriage to Barkis never happened and she would be free to marry Victor.

    Flaming Stupid 
  • When 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?
    • They were dirt poor, so maybe they were watering down the wine?
    • It wouldn't have to be watered down. Even gasoline will drown a small flame, not fuel it, if poured on all at once like that.
    • True, what is inflammable in the cases of gasoline and alcohol is not the liquid, but rather the gas they produce.

    How are the Worlds Connected? 
  • How is the Underworld related to the Living World? Emily's body is clearly where Barkis left it, half-buried under the oak tree in the graveyard, but the various corpses seem familiar with her and her tragic backstory. When Victor suggests she meet his parents, she asks where they're buried, but nobody in the Underworld lives in graves, and when the dead go to the land of the living for the wedding they materialize from the shadows. Mayhew's body was left in the middle of the road, but he pops up seconds later in the Underworld. It's all rather confusing.
    • It's possible that when Emily asks "Where are they buried?" it's just a more applicable means of saying, "Where do they live?" since, as you've made note of, where people like Emily and Mayhew are buried (or in Mayhew's case, just where he died) determines where they end up in the Underworld. When she asked Victor that, she was only wondering what part of the land of the dead his parents had ended up in.

    How Did the Story Spread? 
  • During the song explaining her backstory, it was mentioned that after Barkis murdered her, Emily vowed to wait by that tree for her true love to come and set her free. If this was the case, and she spent all of her time beneath that very tree, then how did so many members of the underworld come to learn her story?
    • When she was murdered, she had not made the vow yet. So she naturally wakes up in the Underworld, make the vow, and ask the old skeleton with that unpronouçable name to go back on Earth to fulfill the vow. A corpse willingly coming back to earth isn't a common thing, and must have been a thrilling and interesting event to the other dead. During all the time in between, they remember that poor Emily was somewhere up there… Also, all the dead seen in the movie are the people dead in this town, so you may assume that at least some people knew her when they were alive (some may have been her grandparent, by all likelihood).

    Why is Barkis Not a Wanted Man? 
  • The fact that the resting spot of Emily's corpse was a relatively short walk away from the village where Victor lived indicates that she probably lived somewhere nearby in life, and Barkis still being alive and at a fit age for marriage implies that Emily's murder couldn't have taken place that long before the film, correct? So shouldn't Barkis still be something of a wanted man when he shows up to attend Victor and Victoria's wedding? If not for running off with their daughter, wouldn't Emily's parents have at least put out word of how he'd stolen all of their family's treasures?
    • Their daughter stealing their family jewels and eloping isn't something Emily's family would probably want to be known to the public, and Barkis was described as a "mysterious stranger" in "Remains of the Day", making it unlikely anyone knew enough about him to be on the lookout for him as opposed to Emily. And Emily being interested in Victor implies Barkis was around the same age as him when he originally wooed her, whereas in the movie proper, he's old enough for his hair to have gone grey. He probably stayed away from the village long enough for Emily's remaining family to have died off, and might have only returned there in the present because he's spent all the money he stole from Emily. Do note that he does mention a late wife of his when making his bid to the Everglots, suggesting he's confident enough at this point that no one will recognize him or remember what he's thought to have done.
    • Not to mention that detective work and forensic science (or lack thereof) were incredibly limited back then. So murder and various other kinds of crimes were much easier to get away with. Meaning a lot of murders went unsolved (Jack The Ripper being the biggest example of this).

    How Did Emily Know Victor's Name? 
  • When Victor runs from The Ball & Socket and Emily goes looking for him, she calls him by his name... even though the two had just met, Accidental Marriage or not, and Victor didn't even have a chance to introduce himself (understandably, considering how fast things were going). She also somehow knew that Scraps was Victor's deceased dog, despite that, again, she and Victor had technically just met.
    • Considering she knew Scraps and could understand him, it's possible they met at some point and he told her about Victor, who serendipitously happened to be the one to propose to her corpse.
    • Also plausible that Victor has some dead relatives running around, especially considering the time. It seems unlikely at his age his grandparents aren't dead, and Emily seems popular enough among the dead that when she finds a husband they might know and recognize him?

    How are the Servants Paid? 
  • If the Everglots were broke, then how they paid Hildegarde and the butler for their services? It seems doubtful that they would've continued working for free, although maybe Hildegarde did it to ensure she could remain with Victoria.
    • It is possible they burned the last of their finances to keep Hildegarde and the Butler on their employ for while. The movie itself takes place over a week or so, so we can't really say if this was like the last month they could afford them. This would give added context to their hurry in marrying off Victoria and also to the butler's decision to go Screw This, I'm Outta Here in the climax. It is also possible, of course, that both are just continuing to serve out of a perhaps misplaced sense of gratitude and obligation.
    • Also, the Everglots are "land-rich" like most aristocracy. They could be getting rent on the properties, but any money could be immediately being spent on expenses so that they have nothing left over.

     The Dowry Issue 
  • When Victoria explains to Barkis that her family has no money left, and he wouldn't be getting her dowry, he gets upset. But what about the Van Dorts? Wouldn't they have gotten mad over not getting Victoria's dowry? Or would they have not cared because they were already rich from their fish business?
    • They were probably blind to everything but the possibility to marry into nobility. Plus, as you pointed out, they have no shortage of money. Barkis proposes to Victoria purely because he needs the money, which is why he's upset.

     Mo Money, Mo Questions 
  • On a related note, does the movie ever explain where the Van Dorts got their newly acquired cash and where the Everglots' money went off to? Was there some kind of meat shortage that caused everyone to start buying more fish? Did the Everglots make some really bad investments? Is this some kind of sitcom scenario where the Van Dorts' wealth and the Everglots' lack thereof are one in the same, but the two parties are completely unaware of this fact? I realize that this is merely a plot device to get Victor and Victoria into an arranged marriage, but with everything else in the story being so well thought out, the lack of explanation here is rather odd.
    • Sometimes companies just do really well. Everyone needs to eat, and one of the Van Dorts may be a business/industry genius, or they simply happened to be entrenched in the seafood market and able to crush smaller competitors. As for the Everglots, the Impoverished Patrician who has huge amounts of land (and pedigree) but virtually no cash has been common enough during some parts of history to be a trope.