The Nightmare Before Christmas Film

The movie I chose to critique is Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. The story is an animated musical that puts in a world where Halloween is always celebrated but also gives you a brighter side of the joy in the Christmas holiday. Although the movie is not directed by Tim Burton, Henry Selick brings an animated holiday musical to the big screen. Unlike other holiday movies like Rudolph the Red nose reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. The Nightmare before Christmas has a wide variety of misfit characters and scenarios that may not be very holiday friendly to the younger audience.

For example there is a scene where Jack the Skellington (the pumpkin king) wants to kidnap “santy claus” and take over Christmas day. Jack is the main character that has many ideas for Christmas and means well but are not always the best plans. With Tim Burton’s ideas, Henry Selick took Tim’s ideas and visions and was able to bring the creative vision and imaginative characters, sketches and drawings and bring them alive and vibrant.

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In 1993 “The Nightmare before Christmas” became a legendary masterwork with great animation, songwriting and storytelling.

“The Nightmare before Christmas” tells a story of a Pumpkin king named Jack Skellington from Halloween Town. That finds a magical portal that opens into the town of Christmas. Jack has never seen this town before or has not a clue what Christmas is. Being bored “with the same ol things” Jack decides he wants to celebrate Christmas and also include the citizens of Halloween Town.

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Halloween town is filled with of course Halloween monsters, Vampires, werewolves, goblins, witches, ghosts and other unidentified monsters. Jack is the leader that brings the Halloween Town citizens altogether for a big celebration on Halloween. Unfortunately as much as Jack loves Halloween and loves the participation of the citizens he is getting tired and bored of the same celebration and ordinary tradition. Jack strays into a forest, outside of Halloween town where he finds trees with doors engraved with different symbols; The symbols are of different holidays such as Halloween, Easter and Christmas. Jack accidentally falls in to the Christmas door where he falls into a mountain of snow. Jack breaks out into what I think are most famous song of the movie “what’s this”. Jack is excited of the look and feel of Christmas. A very excited Jack skellington then goes back to Halloween Town to tell the citizens what he has discovered. The citizens listen to Jack but there not completely on the same page as him with celebrating Christmas.

Some of the citizens even compare the celebration of Christmas to their Halloween celebration. Not really minding what the citizens Jack goes ahead with his plan to try to take over Christmas. Jack becomes incredibly obsessed with Christmas to the point where he wants to take over Santa Claus’ job. Jack gives the citizens of Halloween Town specific task in order to make is his plan a successful one. Sally, a female rag doll that was created by a crazy scientist by the name of Doctor Finklestein is attracted to Jack. Sally is the only one that thinks Jack’s plan to take over the Christmas holiday is going to be wrong and his plans are not going to go as well. Jack then assigns Lock , shock and Barrel to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him back to Halloween Town. The three kids mess up and end up first bring back the Easter bunny. Against Jack’s orders Lock, Shock and barrel bring Santa Claus to Oogie Boogie. Oogie Boogie likes to gamble and plays a game risking Santa Claus’ life. Christmas Eve rolls around and Sally tries to stop Jack with going through with his plans. Sally uses fog to try to make it harder for him to fly on his coffin sleigh which was not pulled by reindeer but by a ghost dog named Zero.

Jack , starts to deliver presents to all the children around the world sadly the presents do not give joy to the children. The gifts are monsters that scare children, heads that are cut off and toys that come alive and turn against the children. The cops are called and many calls come in about the same issue an imposter in the sky, and presents attacking children. The military is then notified and tries to get Jack and Zero out of the sky. Jack first believes there fireworks or some form of light display but realizes he is under attack. The sleigh coffin that Jack was riding in is shot down and the military announces that the imposter (Jack) is dead. Jack is alive and end up ironically in a graveyard. Jack is disappointed and depressed but quickly is back to his old spirit and comes up with a new plan for the next Halloween. Finally Jack has his head on right and runs back to Halloween Town to rescue Santa and make things better for all. While Jack his heading back to Halloween Town, Sally tries to rescue Santa Claus but Oogie Boogie gets to him first. Jack makes it just in time to free Sally and Santa and fights off Oogie Boogie and putting an end to him by un doing his stitching and having bugs fall out of him (the bugs are what make up Oogie Boogie).

Santa Claus is very upset at Jack and lets him have some words and leaves to try to make Christmas right. So that there is any hard feelings Santa Claus delivers snow over Halloween Town. The citizens of Halloween Town do not know what is going on at first but start to play and enjoy it. Sally finds Doctor Finklestein with a new creation and heads out to the graveyard; Jack follows her and lets Sally know that he is in love with her as much as she is him. The acting in this movie is different, there are no actual people acting but there was a team of people that made up the characters. The characters were made out of clay and there over 200 puppets made for the production. Many heads were made for the different expressions of each character. For clay animation I think the moves are very smooth and everything fits well together nothing seems out of place. The facial expressions and movements fit what the characters are doing and saying.

The cinematography of “The nightmare before Christmas” is made in stop motion. The lighting is weird to me because it is dark but there are times where colors pop out but still look dull and dark. There also silhouettes that can be seen in different scenes, this helps to make the environment scarier. White, orange, purple are mostly used in the Halloween scenes and for the Christmas scenes the usual red white and greens. The design of the buildings give it a old gothic feel, though it does not give you a time frame. Through each scene the characters walk interact and walk through the different environments quite quickly for a clay animation. “The use of moonlight to light the scene is used throughout the Nightmare before Christmas (Henry). The moon seems to be the center of everything important and intimate. The characters seem to look or go to the moon when they’re worried or in deep thought. Throughout the movie fire, torches light up Halloween Town. I did not notice until it was mentioned in a blog that the camera is looking upward most of the time when shooting at Jack Skellington. I am guessing this is to portray that Jack is a huge figure. The citizens of Halloween Town look up to her.

The angle of the camera can also give the audience that same impression. The sound in “The Nightmare before Christmas” was great. It did not matter how soft or loud of the sound it was you knew what the purpose of it was. If a door was slammed you heard it and possibly you can also get out big or heave the door was. Some of the sounds are hard to detect because of the musical scenes. I feel if you are watching the characters sing you do not get at many sounds but those same sounds can also take over the music. There is a lot of background music that play softly throughout the movie and then suddenly it will stop or become softer. The sound effects in the movie were vague but when Jack is on the sleigh and the military is trying to shoot him down is when you really hear the explosions and shooting and the swifts and glides from the sleigh. The genre of “The Nightmare before Christmas” would be animation because obviously it is clay animation.

There are no real people in the movie. There is a romance side to Jack and Sally it is revealed more by Sally toward the beginning of the movie. Later at the end, Jack and Sally let each other know how they feel at the end of the movie. Since majority of the movie has to do with Halloween there is a gothic side to it. Growing up I thought the Nightmare before Christmas was only for the “gothic” audience. It was not until much later that this was false because I am not gothic and I enjoyed it and so do a lot of other non-gothic people. The movie can also be considered a comedy but for the younger audience they not get the joke if they can identify it or may fly right over their heads. I would watch this with my family but it depends on the age group. If they are under maybe seven it may give them nightmares or they could easily think that there are getting monsters for presents. The nightmare before Christmas has made and incredible impact on society it pre-teens and teenagers easily discover the movie and fall in love with it.

In stores like Hot Topic there is a section strictly for the nightmare before Christmas merchandise. Hallmark stores carry ornaments for the Christmas season. NBA player Derrick Rose has his own signature basketball shoes under the Adidas line called “Adidas Rose 3”. “The “Nightmare Before Christmas” Adidas Rose 3 is an homage to the famous Disney film by Tim Burton that brought us iconic character like Oogie Boogie, Sally and Jack Skellington. (Martinez). The shoe is purple black and white. My interpretation of the “The Nightmare before Christmas” is that in a environment, world of darkness, scary things and sadness; you can still find happiness where it be with yourself or with someone else. Jack is unhappy with the same routines and celebrations but does not want to disappoint the people that he makes happy. Nobody sees that he is in need of a change. Sally is held back by the Doctor who created her she is not allowed to have fun or go out much but she has great ideas and good intentions. She is in love with Jack Skellington but she shies away from him.

The styling and directing of “The Nightmare before Christmas” was uncommon and it took up to three years to complete it. Henry Selick’s stop-motion animation made an amazing film. Tim Burton and Henry Selick thought bringing “The Nightmare before Christmas” into the 3-D world was bad idea but later was impressed on how well it looked and was happier that the movie was left like it was in 1993 flaws and all. In all the film became huge, widely known and popular. The Christmas/Halloween classic brought in 50 million dollars at the box offices throughout the United States. Time Burton was also able to repeat this success with the movie “The Corpse’s Bride”. Tim Burton and Henry Selick created a scary fantasy world with diverse scary, intelligent and unique characters and a small place called “Halloween Town”. This movie was a small idea and poem created by Tim Burton himself and almost a decade later was shown in theatres after taking 3 years to make. This is not your usual Disney movie but it is just as unusual and unconventional like its characters, story and creators.


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The Nightmare Before Christmas Film. (2017, Jan 08). Retrieved from

The Nightmare Before Christmas Film

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