It seems like an appropriate time of year to review 1993 film ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.
In this film we see the main character, Jack Skeleton of Halloween town, become disillusioned with Halloween and stumble upon Christmas town. He sees Christmas for the first time and interprets it through his own twisted Halloween eyes. The result is that he decides to hijack Christmas. Chaos obviously ensues as children open presents on Christmas day containing shrunken heads and live snakes. When it gets to the point of being utterly out of control, Jack has to enlist the help of the kidnapped ‘Sandy Claws’ to come and save the day.
The film is created with stop-motion rather than animated or computer generated graphics. This gives it a wonderfully organic feel, much like the amazing Muppet movies. Every beat is wonderfully executed with miniscule attention to detail. Not only are the main characters fully formed, but the supporting cast have true depth too. It makes re-watching a rewarding experience as you often notice something that you didn’t before. Because of the stop-motion method used, this film also has a timeless quality that makes it still look fresh today. Animation and computer graphics from 1993 look old and dated, but The Nightmare Before Christmas still stays relevant and accessible.
The soundtrack is composed and performed by Danny Elfman, who has gone on to write many wonderful soundtracks, including The Simpsons theme music. What he has created here is a score capable of standing toe to toe with some of the greatest musicals of all time.
This film was based on a story and characters by Tim Burton. However, he did not direct it, nor did he write the screenplay. Caroline Thompson wrote the screenplay, and the director was Henry Selick. This film seems to be disproportionately credited to Tim Burton, casting the screenplay writer and the director to one side. When seeing Coraline, also directed by Henry Selick, it’s clear to see just how much influence he had of creating this modern day masterpiece.
In short this film is wonderful. It oozes creativity with every frame. The thought and consideration ploughed into it makes it stand the test of time. After seventeen years the soundtrack is still being used on TV Christmas advertising. This is one of those essential Christmas films that must be watched at least once a year.