on December 24, 2000
So, for the holidays, I decided to buy some of my favorite seasonal films, and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was on my list. I like eye-candy, and thus I like Tim Burton. But I'm not reviewing the film so much as this version of it. This is a special, widescreen edition that includes: an original trailer, a "making of", "Vincent," narrated by Vincent Price, and "Frankenweenie".
What it *doesn't* include, however, is the ending I saw in the theater. This version ends with the song near a pumpkin patch (as I clumsily try not to spoil the film for anyone who hasn't already seen it), and not the closing narration. Okay, so I'm picky. I thought I was getting the entire film, and I didn't. The closing narration wasn't long or even, to my mind, boring. Granted, it probably wasn't necessary either, but then, how was including "Frankenweenie" necessary?
It's a wonderful movie and a really cool edition considering what all you get in it. However, if you intended to get the *complete* film that you may have seen in the theaters, you may want to hunt around for a different version.
on July 1, 2004
This movie is beyond enchanting, delving into the realms of spellbinding. I never thought that an animated film could be so stunning with its cinematography mixed with the music. That's the amazing beauty of Tim Burton's world: it's filled with contrasts. In particular is Sally (voiced by the Canadian goddess Catherine O'Hara) the ragdoll who externally is not the most beautiful thing with her stitchings and patched clothes, but internally she is pure and filled with love for Jack. Even her singing (again Catherine) sounds like an innocent child, straight tone (no vibrato) and a flowing, velvet soprano.
The world of Halloweentown is dark, but filled with beauty and rich melodies straining through (by the genius Danny Elfman). The construction of the film is so perfect making Halloweentown filled with browns and blacks whereas Christmastown is bright and cheerful, joyful as we expect Christmas to be and the real world is somewhere in between. All of it pulls together beautifully to create a timeless story and the most magnificently filmed ending with Sally and Jack in the snow.
Just proves the genius of the film makers.
Only Tim Burton could produce a holiday musical about Halloween's grotesqueries taking over Christmas.
And in fact he did. Burton wrote and produced a charming stop-motion musical called "The Nightmare Before Christmas," which is as close as we'll ever get to a Burton Christmas film. And there's rarely a dull moment in this town called Halloween -- from start to finish, it's a quirky, macabre, vintage-flavoured ride through the darker side of everybody's favorite holidays.
In Halloween Town, the undead Jack Skellington is king, and each Halloween the residents try to make their celebration even more horrible than the year before.
But this year, something is missing for Jack, and he starts wondering if scaring people is all his life has. He ends up wandering into a sort of holiday junction, and finds a portal to Christmas Town -- it's full of snow, lights, presents and innocent fun. Jack is instantly enamoured of Christmas, and decides that for this year, the residents of Halloween Town are going to celebrate Christmas.
He manages to convince the other Halloween residents -- except the sweet rag-doll Sally -- to go along with his plan. So Halloween Town is redecorated and filled with presents (in a suitably ghastly style) and "Sandy Claws" is abducted so Jack can take his place. But are the people of Halloween Town just not suited to innocent merriment, and can the Pumpkin King fill the capacious red suit when Christmas Eve rolls around?
The idea of Halloween ghouls and spooks deciding to take over Christmas sounds terribly twee in concept, like a gimmicky children's book. Fortunately Tim Burton's darkly humorous sense of humor and delightfully gothic designs -- as well as Henry Selick's brilliant direction -- end up turning the movie into something that is more than just another kid's movie. Think a Burtonesque "Princess Bride."
Much of its charm comes from the richness of Burton's visuals -- his Halloween Town is saturated in spiky iron fences, ghost dogs, insects, mad scientists, and a spooky cloudy night that never ends. And though the inhabitants of Halloween Town are devoted to being grotesque and spooky, there's a lighthearted benevolence in their actions at all times. It almost makes Christmas Town look... dull.
But it's also an incredibly funny, sweet little movie, with plenty of heart. There's an adorable little love story between Jack and Sally ("My dearest friend, if you don't mind..."), despite Jack's total cluelessness. And Burton weaves in lots of solid musical numbers ("There's children throwing snowballs/instead of throwing heads/they're busy building toys/and absolutely no one's dead!").
But the crown jewel is Burton's macabre sense of humor. Hardly a scene goes by without a creepy gag (one child's present is a shrunken head) or clever dialogue ("Jack, please, I'm only an elected official here. I can't make decisions by myself!"). But the best humor comes from the Halloween-town's residents eagerly trying to be festive, and only making Christmas even creepier than Halloween ever could be.
For a skeleton puppet, Jack Skellington is a pretty adorable hero -- he's earnest, generous, but suffers from a bit of ennui from the same old performance every year. His meditative songs about Halloween and his attempts at Christmas add an introspective note to him as well. And he's backed by a bunch of lovable characters, with Sally and the ghost dog Zero at the forefront.
"Nightmare Before Christmas" is a macabre, wildly adorable little movie that reminds us why we love Halloween (besides the candy). Sometimes the dark and fun go hand in hand.
on April 25, 2004
Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king, is the Halloween planner for Halloweentown and after another successfully Halloween that was scarier that ever he drifts off in melancholy. Jack seems to have found himself in a brainy predicament as he tries to find reason in what he does and why he exists. In contemplation Jack stumbles through a deep forest until he discovers an opening in the woods where there are a number of secret doors that lead to all the different holidays. Jack decides to peek behind the door with the Christmas tree, but a strong wind pulls him in and he falls into a Christmas Town. Flabbergasted Jack learns about this new and strange holiday as he is amazed about the peculiar traditions of Christmas Town and its leader, Santa Claus. As Jack returns to Halloweentown he informs the citizens about Christmas Town and its scary leader, which leads him to want to give the people a Halloween styled Christmas, but there seems to be some dangers to this undertaking.
Nightmare Before Christmas is a wonderful story written by Tim Burton where misinterpretations and errors lead to admirable traits such as courage, forgiveness, and love. However, the story is told in a macabre environment where characteristics are most often forgotten. Despite the ghoulish atmosphere there is always a need for love and affection, and this punches through the true need for these traits. Henry Selick does a very good job as he directs this puppet feature as it offers many thoughts and ideas for an audience to ponder, which leaves them with a very good cinematic experience.
on May 6, 2001
I remember seeing this back in '93. It was the late showing and I was the only one in the theater, a very cool way to see this film for the first time. The Nightmare Before Christmas showcases two of Tim Burton's trademark influences: German expressionist films and stop-motion animation. The dark, foreboding sets, high-contrast lighting, and stark angles of The Nightmare Before Christmas harken back to German films of the silent era, such as Nosferatu and The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. Burton has employed stop-motion animation in several of his earlier films, such as Beetlejuice (by the way, if you look closely in one particular scene, you can see Jack Skellington's head atop Michael Keaton's carousel hat). The Nightmare Before Christmas follows the animated movie tradition of using music and songs to progress the story. Naturally, being a Tim Burton movie, the songs are provided by his frequent collaborator, Danny Elfman. The music and the visuals are inseparable. The wonderful songs breath life into characters who are at home with their dark, sinister nature. Anyone can enjoy Danny Elfman's music, which is easily the best you'll ever hear in an animated musical. The voice talent for The Nightmare Before Christmas is a splendid bunch, drawing from the stable of Tim Burton regulars and improvisational comedy geniuses. Children will be able to grasp the story with little difficulty, and most will be able to grasp that these characters are not at all scary.
The original DVD release, while it contained an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an exemplary video transfer, albeit non-anamorphic, had a dismal lack of extras. It's these extras that make the new DVD worth buying. First up, you get a commentary track with director Henry Selick and director of photography Pete Kozachik. A twenty-five minute documentary highlights the making of the film. Several deleted storyboarded or fully animated sequences are presented. A thorough concept art gallery presents the design work of Tim Burton and the storyboard artists. Two theatrical trailers are included - one is a "teaser" that presents the project as the brainchild of Tim Burton (who was riding high after the success of Batman and Edward Scissorhands), while the other is a more standard theatrical trailer. Also included are his first directorial efforts, the short films Vincent and Frankenweenie. He directed both shorts prior to directing Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Frankenweenie received a video release around the time of Batman Returns, but has been unavailable for many years. This is the first time either film has been available on DVD, and it will probably be the last. If that isn't reason enough to buy this disc, well, nothing will convince you.
on July 31, 2011
Purchased this movie for my five year old Grand Daughter who had previously seen it on TV. This movie by Tim Burton is very well done and entertaining. I thought at first that she would be afraid of it but she absolutely loves it. The music that accompanies the movie is excellent. I may have to buy another copy of the movie before she wears this one out. The movies plot was well thought out, who would have thought that combining Halloween with Christmas would be so entertaining. Excellent movie.
The Nightmare Before Christmas centers around the character of Jack Skellington. Skellington is well-known in his world of Halloweentown. However, he wants to do something different for the tradition of Halloweentown and has an idea to try to take on the role of Santa Claus. Skellington manages to use his leadership skills to convince other Halloweentown residents such as rag doll Sally and the Mayor of Halloweentown to help him with his plans for Christmastown. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a comical family movie filled with a little bit of dark humor. For this aspiring writer/scriptwriter I also saw character development around what can happen if a person may try to do something, even under the best intentions if they were actually wired for something else (i.e. Jack Skellington is made for Halloweentown and actually has a big heart of gold but wants to change up his life by spearheading Christmas traditions). For me, watching The Nightmare Before Christmas is interesting timing because I’m in the process of deciding between two long-term career goals that may affect how my life turns out in the 2030’s when I’m in my 50’s (one is filled with more excitement, higher pay comparable to what I had while in the U.S. navy for repaying my student loans, and opportunities to work anywhere even within the company I currently work at but the only catch is that it would require more schooling, entry into the field is more exclusive/competitive, and/or may or may not fit with what my soul’s natural gifts are while the other idea seems to fit with my soul’s makeup and is more wide open with less barrier to entry,but does not seem as exciting, higher pay in the long-term is not guaranteed for repaying my student loans, and less job stability/job security). Anyhow, the film The Nightmare Before Christmas is also one of those type of movies that actually leaves you smiling and feeling uplifted after watching it even with the setting being Halloweentown and the animation that comes with the film.
on December 25, 2014
One of my teenage years' favorite movies... and it just grew that much more on me as the years went on.
This is one close to perfection film, and much has been said about it, written, filmed or else, so there's little new I can tell you about the classic it has become.
Although I can say I bought the VHS waaaay back in 1993 when it first came out and it wasn't a hit back then. It grew into the cult classic it now stands for, yet classic doesn't mean "money maker", so its final box office was $75 million, which wasn't considered much of a BIG success even back in the days, but it didn't matter.
The colors, animation, designs, direction, voice acting, all brought in their special charms to help make this film a very special masterpiece... and people always said "it's a Tim Burton film"... but the director IS Henry Selick, whom went on to direct ParaNorman and Coraline.
Let's hope less people attribute the direction to Burton and give credit where credit's due.
Boo! Sorry, wrong holiday!
Or is it?
The excitement and merriment of this Christmas season got me to thinking, it had been years since we had viewed Tim Burton's Classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas, and it was high time for a revisit.
And are we ever thankful we did.
For the uninitiated, The Nightmare Before Christmas was the brainchild of Tim Burton, the excellent director behind such movies as Beetlejuice and the Michael Keaton Batman movies. He had created the concept years ago while working for Disney and after his other successes, the idea was revived. Instead of animation, they used stop motion claymation to bring this tale to life.
And what a tale it was. Jack is in charge to the mystical realm of Halloween Town, where all creepy crazy things that go bump in the night for October 31st are formed. But despite Jacks success and the loyal adoration of his people, he grows restless and yearns for a something beyond his reach. Led by fate or the universe or the whims of chance, Jack finds a magical portal in the forest that transports him to Christmas Town. He is mesmerized by the wondrous concept of this place and is determined to fully understand this "Christmas" idea.
Then he takes action. Surprising action. Scary action. Not to spoil the rest, but the remainder of the story spills forth from this twist, with the numerous highs and lows that follow enticing the viewer in.
The story is compact, taking up approximately 116 minutes, and is interlaced with beautiful songs throughout. It is also packed with emotion wallops, from Jacks discovery of Christmas Town with the brilliant melody "What's this?" to the heartfelt love songs he shares with Sally.
Which brings up Sally. While Jack is the exuberant and leaping headfirst into adventure one, with Sally trying to be the more reasonable organized one. Her repeated pleas of caution to Jack are brushed off or misunderstood by him, making her heartbreak very sorrowful. Like any great love story, you are cheering for the this couple with every beat. Jack would be happier with Sally, if only he realized it.
Behind the backdrop of this love story and main journey is the macabre humour infiltrating the DNA of this tale. To say this is not for the little ones or the squeamish is a massive understatement. But for those who love their tales with a sickly twist topped with gross out weirdness and layered upon strangeness, please go right ahead and follow Jack to Halloween Town.
All these elements combine into an throughly enjoyable journey, with so many ideas percolating forth to make you think and fill you with wonder. The basic story of discontent with your lot in life, seeing true love when it is right in front of you, and truly enjoying your special gifts are the surface of The Nightmare Before Christmas. In many ways this movie harkens back to another Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life. Jack and George Bailey share a restless soul and a need for something more. Next year we should watch these gems back to back to get the full experience.
For the geeks among us, the thought of a Halloween Town and Christmas Town and various other ones mentioned or alluded to, remind me of the concept of The Endless from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic from the nineties. Each "Town" has an universal function, the same as how each of The Endless fulfill a role in existence. The main character Dream presides over us as we slumber and he is quite a jerk. He is close to his sister Death, distant from brother Destiny, and estranged from other brother Destruction. And William Shakespeare is a supporting player. I'm not kidding. For anyone who loved this movie, travel into The Dreaming and acquaint yourself with its master. You will devour the entire series, and even forage into Death's mini-series as well.
So for this season, venture into the realm of Jack and Sally with The Nightmare Before Christmas. Sing the songs, dance to young love, and embrace the Christmas Spirit.
See Christmas through Jack's eyes. As it should be.
on November 3, 2011
I love this movie and watch it pre Halloween. It is a classic. It shows how every holiday, occasion or special event stands on its own by its own merit. Mixing apples and oranges doesn't work well even with the best of intent.
What seems like a wonderful idea can go awry because: what seems possible at the time is not understanding that Halloween and Christmas have totally opposite expectations. Jack Skellington soon realizes that his boredom has taken him somewhere out of his realm and then back to his own realm that shows him appreciation for what Halloween is about. That sets in and he finds his place as "Pumpkin King" again in a far better place to be for him. He pours himself into the next bigger and better Halloween. Now Christmas as Jack made it was a disaster but Santa Claus saves the day so all is not lost. Back in Pumpkin Town Sally loves him from afar afraid that her love for him can never be but in the end they find one another. Tim Burton is a genius in his concept and the message hits home to all who watch it. Enjoy the story... Spectacular imagery