Tim Burton's ingenious The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) was originally meant to be a children's book in rhyme. Inspiring, wacky and infused with Burton's gothic sensibility and unique romanticism, Nightmare is a hugely entertaining horror fable as well as a brilliant feat of moviemaking. The film was directed by Henry Selick (a veteran stop-action master) and written by Michael McDowell and Caroline Thompson, based on Burton's original story, world and characters.
Corpse Bride (2005) was Burton's second stop-motion film, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp as Victor and Helena Bonham Carter (for whom the project was specifically created) as Emily in the lead roles. Once again, Burton used his familiar style and trademarks, such as the complex interaction between light and darkness, and of being caught between two irreconcilable worlds. The film is frequently compared to Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride is often considered the spiritual successor of Nightmare. Corpse Bride received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. Along with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride was one of Burton's most critically-praised movies since Nightmare.
The book, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride: An Invitation to the Wedding, is a staple of one young member of our family's library. In the foreword, Tim Burton writes about his inspiration and greatest artistic influences:
Growing up, watching monster movies, I became a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen's work: Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad films, 20 Million Miles to Earth. I knew his name before I knew any actor's name. Ray was, and remains, a very special artist and, watching his films, I could always feel the artistry behind his work. Like a lot of people, I was inspired by him and am where I am today in part because of him. Watching his films you were aware of the artistry, of the skill and of the love he put into his work. He managed to imbue his monsters with more emotion than most of the actors in those movies. And if they didn't have a character, then he always gave his monsters a great death scene. They always had one final dying breath and one final shake of the tail, and you always felt bad for them. Growing up, watching these monsters in pain have their own tragic death was, in a way, a form of catharsis for my adolescent self.