Dark Animation: Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas

One particular movie that can be enjoyed at any point of the year is Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare before Christmas.” This Disney film was one of the most prominent in my childhood. It was based on a poem written by Tim Burton, the movie’s famous producer, in 1982 when he was working as an animator for Walt Disney Studios. After the success of his short film “Vincent” which was also another poem of Burton’s, Disney considered turning it into a short film. In 1990 Burton finally made a deal with the studio and started production in 1991.

I have memories of Halloween get-togethers with friends where we watched it together, all huddled up under a big quilt and passing around the leftovers from trick-or-treaters that night. They are some of my fondest memories of Halloween, and also a few years of Christmas.

The story belongs to Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween. The story starts after another successful Halloween, but Jack feels unhappy. He’s lost his spooky-mojo and doesn’t feel anything for his once-beloved holiday. He somehow leaves his Halloween home, and manages to find Christmas Town. Inspired by the new holiday, Skellington decides he should take over it for the year. From there chaos ensues as Halloween takes over Christmas, Santa gets captured by the Oogie Boogie Man, and Skellington gets some help from a lovesick friend.

Burton’s style of animation is highly unique, having characters with a creepy touch makes for great Halloween figures. The stop-motion film has become rather famous over the years, being the film that many consider their go-to for Halloween and Christmas. Disney has made, and continues to make millions of dollars off this film every year. In an article released by forbes.com in honor of the movie’s 20th anniversary, they said that the overall film revenue jumped from 50 to 75 million in just a few years.

The movie soundtrack is fantastically spooky. Danny Elfman composed the ambient songs, as well as the songs based off of the poem’s lyrics. His work is something very familiar to Burton, who has worked with him on a number of films and projects such as “Beetlejuice,” “Batman,” “Batman Returns,” and “Edward Scissorhands” before working with him on “Nightmare before Christmas.” He creates a delicate and catchy tune that’s easy for kids to love and for adults to love even more. My favorite song of the soundtrack is “This is Halloween.” The beat is contagious, the words are fun, and I don’t think there’s anything better to fit the soundtrack as a whole than the chorus tune.

This film’s animation was directed by Henry Selick, and not Tim Burton as many people think. Burton was the movie’s biggest producer, but Selick was the one in charge of creating all the amazing shots with the models that we all know and love. Stop motion is a difficult medium to work with as it takes a lot of patience to get through every scene, but Selick succeeded beautifully.

Looking through the movie, I don’t think I can find any serious flaws with it. There might be some people who think that the movie might be a little too intense for younger kids.. The themes of horror are minimal at best, and the mentions of sex are even more so. Towards the end there is a rather disturbing scene where Jack defeats Oogie Boogie, taking off the sack that makes up his body and releasing whatever was inside it which happens to be a gigantic amount of various creepy crawly bugs. This might be a little disturbing for some kids, but once it’s over, it’s out of your mind as you focus on the movie’s wrap up. This film is great and one that I’m sure people of all ages will enjoy for years to come.

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