Written By: Sophie
The thing that is most well known about this film is probably the opening song – ‘This is Halloween’. As well as being a catchy tune like all other Danny Elfman songs, it sets up the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, and clearly establishes his role as a main character in this chilling children’s film.
Originally a poem by Tim Burton, The Nightmare before Christmas follows Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) in his attempt to kidnap Father Christmas – with good intentions – to mix up Halloween a little bit as, every year, Halloween has become the same boring routine of scaring and spooking. However, it doesn’t go to plan and Jack soon comes to realise that shrunken heads as presents and riding around in a coffin for a sleigh isn’t a good idea.
What I love about this movie is the animation. 120 workers, 20 sound stages, 109,400 frames; this film took around 3 years to make and this is definitely highlighted. Although this is an extensive time period in comparison to other stop motion animation films like Curse of the Ware-Rabbit (which took 15 months), the entire team working on this blatantly showed that this films was worth making. They created a film with so many elements and details to such a high level of intricacy with 227 puppets in total, including Jack Skellington’s 400-odd heads to take every facial expression under the sun into account. Not to mention the Easter eggs scattered throughout the film. For example, an animated version of Danny Elfman, the composer, is inside the bass when the street band plays in one scene. Henry Selick and Tim Burton are not people to mess with when it comes to animation.
Now back to the soundtrack. Danny Elfman is the master of song writing – and he performed them too. He creates such memorable songs that don’t just appeal to the kids watching, but the adults too. You will find yourself singing along to ‘What’s this?’ or ‘This is Halloween’ in the middle of a lesson or whilst reading this review and I have now probably triggered a song to play in your head which you won’t forget until a week later. It sucks – although it doesn’t. It is simultaneously fascinating and annoying; yet another reason why this film is delightful.
The Nightmare before Christmas is about the two best holidays in one film – what more could you want?! It’s exciting and creepy at the same time and I think that is hard to achieve, especially when targeting a younger audience. The only problem with this, though, is that, if you are a bit OCD like me when it comes to films, you have the dilemma of when to watch it. Do you watch it on Halloween or at Christmas? I try to watch it somewhere in between both – and I don’t fail to do so every year.
It is a great movie that has both Halloween and Christmas elements (and a little bit of Easter) and even though it is not perfect, it’s still a worthwhile film for all ages and I love it to death (I had to put a pun in, I’m sorry). Selick, Burton and Elfman all put their stamp on this brilliant picture and it is certainly one to watch at this time of year.