The Nightmare Before Christmas | Review


Photo By Ashley Vanderhoff

The 1993 stop-motion film the Nightmare Before Christmas, directed by Tim Burton, is known for its unique characters and plot. The film can be streamed on Disney+.

     One of the greatest delights when viewing a movie is experiencing worlds unlike ours. In Tim Burton’s 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas, the stop-motion film displays multiple landscapes that are utterly unrecognizable to us. The scenes are strange and captivating with their unique take on the holiday season. The film is made entirely with stop-motion animation and has excellent characters, plots and themes. 

     The movie opens on a musical note as the odd and spectacular characters are introduced. The unsettling citizens introduce the purpose of their town: to prepare for Halloween and make it the scariest one yet. The most prominent citizen, the Pumpkin King, is a spindly and peculiar skeleton named Jack Skellington, who is beginning to feel bored with the role he plays in the holiday celebration. In this scene, we also meet the film’s deuteragonist: Sally, a rebellious young rag doll who fights to gain freedom from her controlling creator. The movie features many other unusual and compelling characters, like a mayor who is literally two-faced and trick-or-treaters who play morbid tricks. The unique personalities were refreshing when too many holiday movies have repetitive and bland characters.

     The movie continues with another song after the Halloween celebration is shown. Jack is followed throughout the graveyard on a moonlit stroll, and the piece immerses watchers as they are given insight into Jack’s turmoil and shown enchanting scenery. The strong melody and descriptive lyrics do not waste a single line driving the movie forward.

     Despite the movie’s seemingly simple characters, it seamlessly delivers many thought-provoking topics. What happens when one becomes bored with their role in society? How does one deal with the consequences when exploring alternate possibilities? These questions are the main focus of The Nightmare Before Christmas. 

     When Jack becomes bored with his role and coincidentally also stumbles across Christmas Town, he takes it upon himself to give Christmas a frightful makeover. While in the town, Jack witnesses the tradition of gift-giving. This unfamiliar concept captures the Pumpkin King’s interest, and while the town itself leaves Jack with a sense of new-found purpose, his ambitious desires lead to many consequences. 

     Despite the overall mood of Halloween Town’s strange and twisted creatures, Sally provides a breath of sanity and calmness amidst the crooked world. Jack’s desire to celebrate Christmas at first appears innocent, as the skeleton passionately admires the nature of joy and giving the holiday provides, however, his interest leads him to seize the holiday himself by recruiting the citizens of Halloween Town to create horrifying gifts and kidnap Santa Claus. Sally, who witnesses a concerning vision of Christmas, attempts to convince Jack that this is not the way to celebrate Christmas. Her character portrays independence and a strong personality as she persists in doing the right thing and strives to help Jack do so, too. 

     While the film is undoubtedly unique with interesting settings, music and characters, the solid-colored backgrounds and lack of facial expressions in some scenes can distract viewers. However, the movie makes sure to include feel-good moments with its characters. The ending set features Jack and Sally embracing in the same graveyard where we first witnessed the complexities of their characters. The movie’s incorporation of touching moments helps bring meaning to its many landscapes.

     The Nightmare Before Christmas is a movie that can be enjoyed during both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. The twisted characters and creative world leave watchers with an unnerving feeling, yet the conclusion is full of characters working together to help right each others’ wrongs and encapsulate the joyous nature of Christmas. The movie is a must-watch during the holidays.