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By 1993, director Tim Burton was such a successful filmmaker in
Hollywood that he was able to return to one of his most beloved early
projects, "The Nightmare Before Christmas." It's certainly an inspired
movie, as it is also very weird, and when I say "weird," I mean it's
Even though it was directed with enough competency by Henry Selick, this groundbreaking stop-motion animation film is Burton all the way, as it contains ample "esque" qualities that make this "Nightmare" uniquely his vision.
As the film opens in the twisted, "Burton"-esque village of "Halloweentown," Jack Skellington, who is dually voiced by Chris Sarandon and longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman, is celebrating another "horrible" Halloween. You'll be shocked and amazed at some of the town's inhabitants, who include jazz-playing zombies, Four Tenor-like vampires, a wolf man, and a wheelchair-bound scientist who occasionally opens up his cranium to (literally) scratch his brain; his creation, a Frankenstein-like scarecrow named Sally (Catherine O'Hara), yearns for contact with others and is quite fond of Jack Skellington.
But Jack's quickly growing tired of the same old routine year after year, and because he's so downtrodden with boredom, he ventures into the dark forest outside the town's borders, and accidentally stumbles onto the wondrous, jolly world of "Christmastown." Enticed by its splendor, he decides to bring back his discovery to the residents of Halloweentown, who of which are just as shocked by Christmas as he is. Jack gets the brilliant idea to pose as Santa Claus but hires three mischief-makers to kidnap the real Santa so he can share his own, misguided vision of Christmas with an unprepared world.
Painstakingly and meticulously crafted, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a beautiful and wonderful film from start to finish. The most famous image of this film is the cover art, which features Skellington eerily silhouetted against a full moon while he stands atop a coiled hill that overlooks a desolate graveyard.
Burton is such a wonderful director, who had already brought us one unique "esque" vision after the other, especially with the first two "Batman" films and "Edward Scissorhands" behind him as of '93 when "Nightmare" was made.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nightmare Before Christmas is such a classic movie that will always
hold a special place in my heart, even if the new emo generation is
claiming hold of it, they do realize that this film was made years
before, right? Moving on, this is one of my favorite movies of all
time, it's a wonderful and charming movie that is original, funny, and
moving. I think the reason this movie still stands the test of time is
because this was a personal treasure of Tim Burton's. You can tell the
love that was put into this film, it's incredible the way that it was
made and the soundtrack is one of the best albums of all time. All the
characters are lovable and a pleasure to watch as they bring this dark
comedic tale to life.
Halloween Town is a dream world filled with citizens such as deformed monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Jack Skellington leads them in a frightful celebration every Halloween, but he has grown tired of the same routine year after year. Wandering in the forest outside the town center, he accidentally opens a portal to "Christmas Town". Impressed by the feeling and style of Christmas, Jack presents his findings and his understanding of the holiday to the Halloween Town residents. They fail to grasp his meaning and compare everything he says to their idea of Halloween. He reluctantly decides to play along and announces that they will take over Christmas. Every resident is assigned a task, while Sally, a rag doll woman who is created by the town's mad scientist, begins to feel a romantic attraction towards Jack. However, she alone fears that his plans will become disastrous. Christmas Eve he begins to deliver presents to children around the world, but the gifts: shrunken heads, Christmas tree-eating snakes, only terrify the recipients. Realizing what damage he did Jack attempts to fix what he has done, but has to make sure to make Santa safe and happy again.
People who do not enjoy this movie, I don't understand how you could not honestly. It's such a charming movie and very unforgettable, I was 10 years old when I first saw this in the theater in 1995, I still watch it every year for Halloween and even Christmas. My sister and I are grown women, but if I slip in the soundtrack, we become kids again and start singing to The Boogey Song. I do admit that Spencer's Gifts and Hot Topic have over blown on the Nightmare Before Christmas memorabilia, but everyone wants something from this movie because it's just that memorable and you can't help but fall in love with it. It's positively magical, Jack Skeleton is awesome and can steal any holiday any time, I loved his ideas personally, Easter is next!
I was a kid when I first saw Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, but I
wasn't scared by it in the slightest - this world is one entirely of the
imagination, and in a sense saying that the film is scary for younger
children is something of a compliment. 'Nightmare' is both a horror film
and a musical, and fantasy and a suspense film, and like most Burton effort,
comedy is thrown in at just the right moments.
With Henry Selick as director and Michael McDowell & Caroline Thompson as the screenwriters, Burton has fashioned the worlds of Halloween-town and Christmas-town as real originals, working on the cliches that are in each holiday and surrounding the worlds with a host of terrific and terrifying characters. While Halloween-town has a mayor (appropriately with two faces, one smiling one distressed), the real leader is Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon voices with a great Danny Elfman as the singing Jack) who orchestrates Halloween every year for its citizens. But he's grown weary over the years, and after stumbling upon Christmas-town, loaded with good will towards men and a large man in a red suit, he gets his town riled up to overtake the joyous holiday. Despite one protest by Sally (an amazing Catherine O'Hara), the doll-girl who loves him, the town goes on creating Jack's vision. The results are hilarious and, indeed, spellbinding.
Much credit is given to Burton and Selick for their work on the film, but a lot should also be attributed to Denise Di Novi (co-producer and co-designer), Rick Heinrichs (visual consultant), Pete Kozachik (D.P.), and of course Danny Elfman for his perfectly fitting score and song creations. Along with the talented voice actors, Nightmare Before Christmas ends up a triumph of artistic ingenuity. Some could construe it as too weird or too stylish, but for the cult audience it has garnered over the past ten years it remains of of Burton's finest accomplishments. A+
Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King the creative genius behind the
holiday of Halloween, designing each year to be scarier and more
horrible than the one before. However deep inside he longs for more
than the horror and scares of Halloween Town, a longing he cannot
understand until he stumbles into Christmas Town and sees happiness and
cheer the likes of which has evaded him all these years. Having finally
worked out what Christmas is all about, Jack decides to kidnap Santa
and make himself the new king of Christmas Town so that he can have the
happiness of Christmas all the time. But the others in the towns
realize the significant consequences that this disruption of the norm
will have as Jack's evil nature proves harder to overcome than he
With Pixar currently dominating the world of 'animations that please both children and adults' it is easy to forget that over a decade ago Tim Burton delivered this delightful family film to the cinema using a much more traditional animation and a huge amount of imagination. The basic plot is a great little fantasy fairytale with a very dark heart to it that make it much more enjoyable for having that edge. Too often kids films (especially at the time and animated) are soaked in a sweet sentiment that simply forgets that kids are not stupid and indeed often prefer a bit of darkness in the story. The only downside of this darkness is that younger children might not 'get it' and just end up being scared by the Halloween images and imaginative images. Despite this the material will play equally well to adults and children because it neither panders to nor excludes one group over the other at any time. Regardless of the material, the film still manages to come off as charming and enjoyable thanks to a well-written script that never plays for the basic laugh or easy sentiment. Some viewers may come to this with Pixar in their minds and bemoan it for not being hilariously funny from start to finish, but they are missing the point and
The songs reflect this approach and are very clever throughout; whether it is the sorrowful longing of Jack at the start or the Cab Calloway-inspired song from Oogie Boogie Man, generally they are inventive and fun. The same praise can be laid at the door of the stop-motion animation, which is inventive and fun to look at from start to finish. All the characters have a great deal of effort put in and they add to the dark feel of the film. The voice cast may not feature a load of well-known voices in the same way as Pixar films generally do, but they still do a great job. Sarandon and Elfman combine to do a good job with Jack; Page is fun as Oogie Boogie; O'Hara is good as Sally despite not having as fun a character to work with but for my money it is Hickey (as Dr Finklestein) and Shadix (Mayor) that make the biggest impression, mainly due to having the most enjoyable characters.
Overall this is a very short but very enjoyable film that will please both children and adults at the same time (with the same material) and never ignores or panders to one side of the audience over the other. Both groups will appreciate the dark fairytale, the clever songs, the darkly imaginative animation and the comic sense of humour, making this a family film that deserves to be remembered even as kids movie get smarter and fancier.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS / (1993) ***1/2
Starring the voices of: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, Ken Page, Ed Ivory, and William Hickey Directed by Henry Celiac. Written by Michael McDowell. Running time: 76 minutes. Rated PG (for horrific images and some animated violence).
Tim Burton seems like the only being on the planet who could come with characters such as the ones found in "The Nightmare Before Christmas." The feature is literally a tale likely to be found in a child's dreams. It creates a world of its own, inhabiting unforgettable characters and events that should be shared with generations. This film is a visual masterpiece; a movie that deserves to be a holiday favorite for some time to come.
The atmosphere director Henry Celiac captures in "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is truly breathtaking. The cities and setting in which these characters live are visually perplexing, yet descriptive and develop the production's mood perfectly. We, as audiences starving for originality and imagination, are able to enter a scope so believable and unrelentingly convincing we lust for every last minute of it.
The movie's protagonist is Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of the holiday town of Halloween. Jack is the role model for much of the cities population. The only problem is that Jack has been around for ages, parked in a town where every single year builds up for a conventional holiday, Halloween. This character has grown depressed and saddened by the routine living style he inhabits. We learn of his passion for new events and a and new life through a musical number that is both effective and engaging.
Later on that vary night, Jack wonders off into a nearby woods and stumbles upon an area surrounded with magical doors leading to specific holiday worlds. Jack, blooming with curiosity, enters Christmas town: a joyful, happy place with snow, glitter, children singing, and colorful lights decorating the village in its entirety. Jack is mystified by the glamorous atmosphere, and rushes home to tell the Town of Halloween about his adventures.
We realize the internalconflict is Jack's boredom of routine. This becomes more complex when he tries to figure out the meaning of Christmas. The external problem comes later in the plot, where we predict an uneasy disaster upcoming due to his intentions of recreating Christmas in Halloween style.
Other key characters are Sally, the puppet-like creation of an angry professor, the city's Mayor who has a head for both his good and bad personality, the Oggie Boogie, the film's villain who is everything we ever dreamed of regarding a diabolical animated bad guy, and the inevitable character of Santa Clause.
"The Nightmare Before Christmas" is not necessarily a children's movie, it might be too strange or fanatical for the very young. It is certainly a musical production, and at times, I felt that the songs replaced essential development. However, the musical numbers are challenging and memorable, containing passion and emotion. The picture is a walk into the mind of some of the most wildly imaginative filmmakers of our time. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is titled wonderfully, although the film is truly not a nightmare, but a dream--a dream brought to life on the big screen.
Brought to you by Touchstone Pictures.
I am not a big Tim Burton fan, but this movie is in my top 3 of all
time. Perhaps the fact that Halloween is my favorite holiday influenced
my opinion, but I doubt it. The more I hear and read about this movie,
the more I love it.
Based on a parody of the famous "Night before Christmas" poem by Moore that Burton wrote and illustrated while employed at Disney, this idea was stagnant for many years prior to filming. In many ways this was a good thing, technology was able to catch up to Burton's ideas.
In NBC, we see our hero Jack Skellington, aka The Pumpkin King, depressed as another Halloween passes. In the background we hear the residents of Halloween Town celebrate another wonderful holiday. But Jack is sad. The only one who notices is the Rag Doll-style woman Sally.
Other characters, including many town-monsters, are introduced. We meet the wonderful mayor with two faces, the evil scientist and his assistant, three local children and our evil boogie-man.
After an accident, Jack develops a plan to kidnap "Sandy Claws" and give presents out for Christmas in place of Christmas Town. You will have to view this movie to discover the rest.
The claymation is not what I expected, it was of a high quality and the movements are not jerky like the old Christmas Specials. Danny Elfman's music has little resemblance to his work with Ongo Bongo and "What's this?" (which Jack sings when he discovers the colorful world of Christmas Town) is closer to a tune mixed from Cabaret and The Music Man. The voices match the mouth movements nearly perfectly. This was a project from the heart and all the little touches to make it 'just' right show this fact.
This film, while far from Burton's masterpiece, is a delightful musical that in the end shows that, sometimes, we have things far better than we think we do and the other side of the fence sometimes looks better just because it's different, but that doesn't make necessarily wise to pursue someone else's dream because we mistakenly think we may like it more. Tim Burton's fingerprints are all over this film. Excellent casting of vocal talent, the score is great and the animation is marvelous. A very good film and worth watching more than once. Recommended.
This movie has always been a favorite of mine. I never like holiday movies, because i always find them to be full to bursting with slapstick comedy, or way too sugary-sweet and dramatic. both of these things are okay in moderation, but most Christmas movies seem to go to one side of the spectrum or the other. this wonderful fairy tale is perfect for someone like me, who likes a little bit of a darker movie, but expects a Christmas movie to have a good message. the darkness in the movie is not without cause-it shows the joy of Christmas in great contrast to the scariness of Halloween, and it made me love both holidays all the more for that reason. i don't know, maybe that's just because Halloween and Christmas are my favorite holidays, but i really feel that this movie is great for older children and adults. younger children (up to 5 or 6 years) may find this simply frightening, but older children would find it wonderful.
I was five years old when I saw this movie and after that the words Tim
Burton rang in my ears as one of Hollywood's most eccentric directors.
Whenever I hear that a Tim Burton film is coming out I think of The
Nightmare Before Christmas and how wonderful it is. The story is very
original, the scenery is wonderfully Gothic and the characters and
animation is to scream for.
Another thing about this film are the songs. They're so twisted and funny that I can't help but hum, whistle or just sing them word by word and musical note by musical note.
So in conclusion, The Nightmare Before Christmas is what you would get if you were to put the minds of Edgar Allen Poe and Dr. Seuss in a blender. You get a beautifully dark and wildly bizarre film about Santa Claus, dancing skeletons and what goes bump in the night.
Tim Burton's 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is one of the nice animated
movies not from Disney. It is about Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, who
lives in Halloweentown. One day he goes through a door in a tree and arrives
in Christmastown and sees how happy and beautiful it is over there. When he
is back in Halloweentown he shows his friends what Christmas is like, and he
suggests to do Christmas this year instead of Halloween. Things do not go as
Everything is beautifully animated and although the story is not that great it is entertaining the whole way through. I liked all the songs in the movie and there are some good laughs as well. Definitely worth watching.
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