THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS


1993

DIRECTOR: Henry Selick

May Contain Spoilers!

Whilst Tim Burton was directing Batman Returns, he was also producing this stop-motion animation classic. The influence of Batman’s second outing was clear, and I’m sure that there was a nod to Returns in the scene when the Mayer of Halloween Town is looking for Jack Skellington, with a picture of  bat and cat on a plan for next years Halloween.

The story is well conceived, as Jack Skelington, the master mind of the Halloween, is bored with his endless role in the macabre holiday and discovers Christmas Town. Whilst there, he becomes obsessed with Christmas and returns home and arranges for Halloween Town to take over the holiday that year.

Jack’s obsession leads him to research Christmas but he can’t understand it, leading to a christmas sack filled with shrunken heads and a host of other macabre gifts. The beauty of this film is that it is aimed at everyone. It feels like a kids film but the humour is classic Burton, as is the style. Jack’s obsession is handled in a mature fashion too, a concept that is not fully understandable by children but enough so as to understand his actions.

The other masterstroke here is that almost all the characters of Halloween Town are good. Their motives by trying to put on Christmas are admirable and Jack’s sorrow at his inevitable failure is also very touching. Bad things happen to good people, or creatures, throughout but there’s little malice. it walks a line which fairy tales often do, but this is little a more brasen about doing so.

With a blend of humour, scares and striking imagery, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a great watch for all the family, and a through-back into the days of Grimm and Anderson, only in the final days of the 20th Century.

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