Halloween: Emily or Victoria?

Screenshot from Tim Burton’s ‘The Corpse Bride’ starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Copyright goes to Tim Burton Productions and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

My favorite movie to watch around Halloween is Tim Burton’s ‘The Corpse Bride’. Not only is this movie absolutely gorgeous in a creepy way, as most of Tim Burton’s films are, but the story is also carefully crafted. For the few of you who haven’t seen this movie, it follows Victor, a young man who finds himself in an arranged marriage and discovers that he is very much in love with the woman he’s supposed to marry. After messing up his vows in rehearsals, he practices them again in the forest where he places a wedding ring on a branch that suspiciously looks like a human hand. He only realizes his mistake when a corpse bride rises from the ground, now believing herself to be married to him. If this sounds interesting to you in the least bit, please go watch it now because this post will have SPOILERS. It’s definitely worth a watch. It’s also another one of those movies that you can easily watch if you’re like me and hate horror movies, but still like watching something spooky around Halloween. Go watch it before it’s too late! They gone? Ok. The large fandom surrounding this movie has, for a very long time, debated the question of whether or not Victor should have ended up with Victoria at the end of this movie. After all, the movie spends a lot more time with Emily, the corpse bride, who is so endearing that I have not met a single person who’s favorite character in the movie wasn’t her. So who was really right for Victor? These are only my opinions, so feel free to disagree!

Victoria:

  • Pros. You have to give Victoria that she doesn’t sit idly by in the movie. When she finds out that Victor is in trouble, she goes to great lengths to attempt to ensure his safety. Even if her attempts end in everyone believing that she’s insane. She, sadly, isn’t able to do so much for Victor in his predicament. I may prefer Emily to Victoria as a character, but Victoria is still a very loveable character. How can you not love her when she stands up for herself against Lord Barkis at the end of the film? Victoria may be more traditional and reserved than Emily, but she’s got an incredibly big heart. Victoria is probably most worried about not liking Victor despite their engagement. Yet she still falls for him over his piano skills. Their meeting is very sweet. It’s clear that Victoria falls for Victor very fast. And why wouldn’t she? The only person in her family that truly cares about her is the elderly maid that has taken care of her since she was small, and this woman won’t stand up for Victoria when she doesn’t want an arranged marriage or when Victoria is accused of being either mentally insane or possessed by demons. Victor is a presence that Victoria sorely needs in her life, as he’s the only person who attempts to understand her or truly be there for her.
  • Cons. The fact that Victoria and Victor are arranged to be married definitely raises eyebrows. Because there is no world in which the practice of arranged marriages should be seen as a good thing. Even though both Victor and Victoria express apprehension about being forced to marry at the beginning of the movie, their complaints about the system drop as soon as they discover they like each other. After this the subject is barely touched again until Victoria is arranged to be married again, this time to Lord Barkis in Victor’s absence. But this time the danger lies in the fact that Lord Barkis is a bad person, so now the arranged marriage is wrong. If you tiptoe around that slightly messy situation, you’ll also notice that Victor and Victoria spend very little time together over the course of this movie. Victor spends much more time navigating the world of the dead than he spends in the land of the living. He gets a couple of moments with Victoria at the beginning of this movie, a scene in the middle when Emily discovers he tricked her to see Victoria and becomes angry, and a moment at the very end of the movie. They know just as little about each other at the end of this movie as they do at the beginning, because this movie isn’t about Victoria or Victor’s relationship with Victoria. This movie is called ‘The Corpse Bride’ for a reason.

Emily:

  • Pros. Simply stated, Emily is the most interesting character in this movie. When she rises from the grave at the beginning of the film and chases after a terrified Victor creepily declaring “I do”, she’s already the most frightening character. It’s only when you get to the land of the dead after Victor passes out from fear that you get Emily’s true personality. She’s a gentle and kind young woman who was murdered when she tried to elope with her love. We later find out that this love was Lord Barkis, who murdered her for her money. All Emily wants throughout this movie is to find peace, which she strongly believes she will find by feeling again the love that she lost. She also falls very hard for Victor very fast and feels helpless when she finds that Victor is afraid of her. She spends much of the movie trying to make him happy, even giving him his dead dog and letting him go back to the land of the living when he insists he wants to introduce her to his parents. She feels immense sadness when she realizes Victor is pining after Victoria, and laments that her heart is no longer beating. It is she that we spend the entire movie getting to know, and Victor also spends the entire movie getting to know her. Victor and Emily grow together. Once they get past their differences and get to know each other, Victor discovers that he does care for Emily and agrees to get married to her, this time actually meaning his vows. He even agrees to this after learning he’ll have to die to truly marry her, a fact that makes Emily hesitate with going through with the marriage.
  • Cons. Emily is dead. That’s a pretty big one. Victor still has his entire life to live and Emily had hers cruelly taken from her. Despite Emily being weirdly wonderful, her actions are not always understood by Victor either. How beautiful was the scene where Emily was dancing around in the moonlight? And Victor didn’t even care, he was just trying to get away from her. I mean, Emily does have maggots and an eye that keeps falling out, but still! Emily is great! Really, what’s not to like about Emily? Maybe she shouldn’t have automatically assumed she and Victor were married at the beginning of this movie, because there are several obvious problems with that. It was clear that Victor didn’t mean to put that ring on her finger, and really, he didn’t even say “I do”. But considering Victoria and Lord Barkis’s wedding, I’m not quite sure these weddings need an “I do” to be valid. There’s not much to say here.

The Verdict:

So, who do I think Victor should have ended up with? Easy. Victoria. If that doesn’t make sense to you after what I just wrote, I don’t blame you. To be honest, this is a painful decision for me because I love the pairing of Victor and Emily. But the reason I think Victor shouldn’t have ended up with Emily doesn’t really have to do with Victor’s happiness and entirely has to do with Emily’s happiness. The ending of this movie is really important for Emily as she realizes during the wedding that, even though her life was taken from her, she can’t steal a life of love from Victoria. When Lord Barkis enters she realizes that the man she loved in her past life was the same man who took her life. This is one of the best parts of the movie in my opinion, because it gives Emily some of the best character development in the film. She’s the only person in the situation who can stand up to Lord Barkis, and it’s her anger that makes him nervous and leads him to cause his own death by drinking the wine of ages meant for Victor. This final scene gives Emily all the peace that she wanted. Her murder is solved and she realizes that Victor gave her the love that she needed, even if she now has to give him up. Emily is able to finally leave the land of the dead and ascend to someplace else. This is the natural end to her story. Though it would have been cute to see Victor and Emily living happily together in the land of the dead, it wouldn’t really have been a happy ending. Victoria would have been stuck with a family that doesn’t care about her, Victor would have had to give up his life, and Emily never would have gotten the peace she needed. It’s also good to remember that, even though Victor did develop some feelings for Emily, he loved Victoria for the entire movie. And Victoria loved him too. That’s really what matters.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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