With more than his share of amazing films, stories and ideas, he is by far a well known and greatly loved director and creativity fountain.  One of his greatest films received 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and has had more critical acclaim than most estranged Christmas films would have a chance of receiving. Growing up and watching movies of his realizing there is theme of the lead characters being misunderstood, which is made apparent by Vincent, a short film of his, each character is similar but unique. Being a fan of Batman, Batman Returns (which my dad loved and always thought were the best Batman films in a strange way), Big Fish, Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Ed Wood, I had obviously not-so-patiently awaited Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and, later, Sweeney Todd. His, in my opinion, greatest masterpiece happens to be inspired by the changing decorations from ghouls and goblins to elves and reindeer in a normal mall.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Simply Breath-Taking (not because they're dead)

Director Henry Selick, who may have been the inspiration to do Charlie & the Chocolate Factory based on his hair, took over the part of directing because Mr. Tim Burton, the genius behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, was directing Batman Returns. Forgive me for my run-on sentences, I suffer from it due to my Spanish language influence. Directing or not, Tim Burton still had quite a handle on the entire project. He left the idea with Disney and came back to make his ideas concrete and last a lifetime.

First of all, I would say most people have probably seen this movie. If they haven’t there is no amount of Jewish shame I can place on them that would justify their terrible waste of time that kept them from watching this movie. If you haven’t seen it, please do not read because there will be many “spoilers”.

To go straight into it, the type of animation used was stop-motion animation. Considering the time and demanding attention it takes to create just one second of a film like this makes the hour and twenty minute movie one of the most proficient examples of patience. The fact that the story boards had to, essentially, map out every subtlety in the movements of each character so the puppeteers had an easy reference for each frame makes the film a complete waste of time if you don’t get up and watch it this instant. All of Tim Burton’s ideas for each character had to be sculpted after countless drafts of the character were made. His concept art astounds anyone who sees them. His imagination went beyond simple characters because he was able to make each one memorable in the movie. My absolute favorite character in the movie (who is a minor character) happens to be the Harlequin Demon (shown below). You can’t watch the movie without realizing that each puppeteer had to move each of these characters a tiny fragment to create that one second of footage and to give life to your favorite character.
Also the use of stop-motion animation is a direct parallel to the use of stop-motion animation in the usual Christmas classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus (similar to this story) and Jack Frost. Considering that the movie has developed into a Christmas Classic (most likely for those older than the age of 7 due to it being slightly creepy for anyone younger) the use of stop-motion animation seems appropriate.

The music in the movie is obviously important since it is a musical. I have since accumulated three or so different versions of each song on the soundtrack. My parents showed me Oingo Boingo when I was a kid and the ‘frontman’ of the band was Danny Elfman. Each song on the soundtrack was created and imagineered by him. They’re quite the piece of work. They’re amazing and I love each of them. Probably the classic favorite would be “What’s This?” and the tones incorporated into that song convey Jack’s emotions perfectly. He’s learning as he goes along through Christmas Town. Each little part of Christmas Town is new and exciting to him. The song gives that quality with the way it speeds up and slows down. Oogie Boogie’s Song is wonderfully amazing as well. In general, every song on the soundtrack is just undeniably a masterpiece.

What\’s This sung by Danny Elfman

The setting of the different Towns and how they’re constructed is spectacular. It’s similar to the ideas presented in The Corpse Bride with the worlds having different color schemes. Christmas Town would obviously have a lot of color and have a brilliance to it with reds, greens, blues and white. This was wildly amazing considering Jack came from Halloween Town, a town of orange, black and white. The real world, which neither party seem to be obsessive over or interested in besides conducting their usual business there, is made of incredibly boring and natural colors. Everything looks similar and just blends together to create an average world. Each Town gives a certain flavor to the eye’s palate. Whether you’re aware of it while you’re watching or not, you do notice it subconsciously.

Sally's human...kinda.

It's actually kinda cute. Harlequin Demon

Jack would like you to visit friendly Halloween Town

Each of Tim Burton’s characters astound me. His ability to bring them to life and for people to like, love them and go through the journey with them is just glorious.

Jack Skellington — His entrance really shows that the Mayor isn’t really the leader of the town, hah. Halloween Town seems to be run by a puppet government. He’s a character everyone can relate to, going back to Burton’s obsession with main characters who have been misunderstood (Vincent, Corpse Bride, Ed Wood, Pee-Wee, Edward Scissorhands) because everyone, to an extent, feels misunderstood. There are other characters in arts and literature who are personified the same way, but for Jack Skellington to be relate-able is quite the amazing achievement due to his bony exterior.

Sally — I was her for Halloween in 9th grade and I always kinda liked her which is probably just because she gets the guy in the end. Her strength is also quite amazing too, though. Unlike most movies, she gets a chance to save Jack rather than him saving her and it’s not in the overly dramatic way, more of an undertone salvation. Typically the easiest for new viewers to connect with because she is the “most human” looking.

Oogie Boogie — Incredibly amazing in that he is completely creepy and mesmerizing at the same time. His appearance, a sock you might see under your bed and mistake for a monster, was different enough that he still creeped you out in the movie, but kept you kind of hoping he would continue with all of his games.

Santa Claus — Funny enough, this guys bugs the crap out of you when you’re watching. Perhaps that’s just me, but I think others would agree that Jack is infinitely more amazing than Santa Claus could ever be. Santa reminds you of a really annoying child, except when he spreads a little Christmas cheer in Halloween Town. Wonderful switch on your typical opinion of Christmas and Halloween.

The meanings I derive from the movie are obviously a little girlier than you might draw, however the biggest meanings I noticed were the ideas of someone being comfortable with who they are and will be and the cop-out –> “love”.  Jack was uncomfortable with himself, being the Pumpkin King, even though that’s who he was destined to be. Throughout the movie he’s almost haunted by his own characteristics and who he is. In the end, he learns that he’s okay with his job, who he is and how he is meant to be. Everything becomes new and exciting and he learns that he is amazing on his own. The cop-out love meaning is due to the fact that Jack and Sally find love (which most girls root for anyway) and then Dr. Finklestein finds love too, in his tailor-made girlfriend, sure, but still, tis love.

Overall, the campy dialogue, “outdated” animation, sometimes not-rhyming lyrics and the creepy atmosphere to Christmas make the movie Tim Burton’s most amazing masterpiece.

I have also gone much longer than I ever thought I should have which means this should probably be a two-part or three-part review.  It’s an amazing movie that you’ve put off seeing for far too long. Jewish Shame. Now go watch it.

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