Day by day we inch closer and closer to Halloween. As these days turn into hours and hours fade into minutes we creep closer to the ever illusive deadline of October 31st. With Halloween now so close you can almost taste it that also means another holiday is looming off in the distance. If you look close one can already see it. That red and green glow of its flashing lights. Accopanied by that cold winter wind. Jack Frost nipping at your toes. I am of course talking about the coming Christmas season! And every year right around late October we start to get this bizare blend of the two holidays. While Halloween is on its way out Christmas is on its way in. The next couple of weeks are a strange time where you can purchase rubber bats and a half gallon of fake blood and then turn right around and snag something else with snowflakes on the pacakge. It is a weird mix of gingerbread and candy corn. Making it the perfect time to cover one of my favorite films of all time A Nightmare Before Christmas!
I have a hard time believing that anyone reading this website has not seen this movie. But considering that it first came out in 1993 it is possible that an entire generation of kids have now grown up not having any clue what this movie is. Lets fix that. A Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated film but not that fancy new CGI style of animation. This is a much older (and much better, in my opinion) style of animation known as claymation. Where a team of animators would physically move clay models of all the characters one frame at a time and snap a photo of each movement. The photos are then strung together one by one forming a gigantic flip book of sorts thus giving the illusion of movement. The animations in A Nightmare Before Christmas are indeed top notch, giving very fluid very realistic movements out of all the characters. It still holds up very well to this day and is quite pleasing to look at, especially to an audience who is only used to the modern CGI techniques of todays animated films.
Although Tim Burton has his name stamped all over the film and he is indeed credited as the films writer (the whole idea for a Halloween/Christmas confrentation was his) as well as thinking up certain characters like the films title character Jack Skellington. The movie itself was directed on a day to day basis by a man named Henry Selick under the supervision of Burton (who was busy working on other films at the time) but ultimately became the brainchild of composer Danny Elfman. Who not only wrote almost all of the films songs but also provided the voice for the films main character, Jack Skellington.
A Nightmare Before Christmas is the story of how two Holidays momentarily became one. The film centers around a character named Jack Skellington who is, you guessed it, a skeleton who refers to himself as 'The Pumpkin King' and is in charge of a place called 'Halloween Town'. Jack and the rest of the residents of Halloween Town (who range from werewolves to mutants, vampires, a mad scientist, and a two faced [literally!] mayor) are in charge of the holiday of Halloween. It is there job to make sure that every year it is as spooky as possible. Only this year Jack is starting to grow bored of doing the same spooky job every year. It is only when he accidentally stumbles upon a place called 'Christmas Town' (that would be where Santa Clause and his elfs live, for those keeping score at home) that Jack realises what he must do. He hatches a plan to take over Christmas and clame it his own, with the help of his friends back in Halloween Town of course. Of course Jack and everyone else sort of miss the point of Christmas and treat it with the same spooky approach that they would use to typically haunt the world on Halloween Eve.
Intertwined amongst all of this is also the story of a girl named Sally who has been brought to life (stitched together like a doll, actually!) by a mad scientist and is basically being kept against her will even though she wishes to explore the world. She ends up falling in love with Jack and is the only resident of Halloween Town who realises that his plan to take over Christmas is wrong and tries to figure out how to stop him before it is too late. Most of this is conveyed through the use of music, brought together by composer Danny Elfman. The music in A Nightmare Before Christmas is something in and entierly of itself. This is one of the films many areas that help to make it shine and stand out from the rest. It is a perfect blend of both holidays thus making it the perfect film to watch during this transitional period from Halloween to Christmas!