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28 July 2011

The Nightmare before Christmas (1993) [Musical Film-a-Thon] 12#

Directed by: Henry Selick
Produced by: Tim Burton & Denise DiNovi.
Run Time: 76 minutes
Genre: Animation, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Musical
This film is a breath-taking journey into Burton’s highly original world with the great cast of characters and highly magical story. That is one of the many joys of films.  As far as concepts come, Nightmare before Christmas is one of the most original I’ve seen. The film has everything a good film should have. It has great characters, interesting storyline and great direction. Although the story is simple, it remains beautiful. The film sweeps you off your feet and takes you into the imaginative world of Halloween Town. The style is so distinctive and appealing, which makes it different from most animated movies out there. This one of the films that got me interested in films and film-making. The Nightmare before Christmas is a timeless animated wonder because of how artistically crafted it is. 
We meet the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town named Jack Skellington who has just gotten tired of what he does every Halloween. Halloween town is a place full of monsters, and Halloween is worshipped and loved by everyone. Therefore, in his sorrow he wonders off into the woods and discovers Christmas town. After an exciting song he comes back to tell everybody the news and then he decides to make a Christmas of his own. With the help of the citizens of Halloween town Jack becomes the Santa of Halloween town and takes Christmas into his own hands. As much as Jack thinks he's doing right he's doing harm to people. He's innocent in the act and the film ends with a great climax. The story is not too complex, for the film only has a run time of 78 minutes, but it’s still an enriched film.

From Jack Skellington to Lock, Shock, Barrel all the characters are wonderful to meet, and you can really relate to them. Especially Jack as we see him in despair one moment and the next singing in glory. As of Sally the experiment of Doctor Finkelstein, Catherine O Hara voices her wonderfully. The relation Sally has with Jack is beautiful to see as we learn she has a vision of something bad happening and keeps on trying to warn Jack. It's a beautiful love story as we learn they both have the same desires of freedom. They both want something in life and in the end, they get it, and that is each other. Our main character Jack is the hero of our story, and the one who starts all the havoc in the real world. Jack is a great character because when he has an idea, he sticks to it 100%. Chris Sarandon voices him for the dialogue and Danny Elfman, the master of film music did the singing. Jack is really a character we can all relate to, as we all desire something or get tired of the same old routine.

Sally is a rag-doll type character, created by Doctor Finkelstein. Sally is stitched together and still has a bit of trouble walking. So Sally has an artistic appeal about how she is designed. I think Sally is a wonderful character, and as I said, the relationship between Jack and Sally is wonderful. Sally is another innocent character in the story that has an interesting design and like Jack, has a desire for something different. I also think Catherine O’ Hara (You may know her from Beetlejuice) did a wonderful job as the voice for Sally. Soft toned and beautifully spoken. 

Oogie Boogie is nothing more than a sack of worms and that is the main thing about this great character. He does not appear much in the film, but his appearances are fantastic. As we see him singing his ‘Betty Boop’ inspired song. This guy is a great villain and is very charismatic character with the passion for gambling. He is one of my favourite Disney villains. Although he is not intimidating, but his charismatic evilness makes him memorable.

This is definitely one of my favourite movie soundtracks of all time, because Danny Elfman really nailed this one. Not just the songs including ‘What’s this’ and ‘This is Halloween’, but even the ambient music that plays throughout the film was good. From the moment, I first ever heard that opening music I latched onto the story. Another thing is in the Oogie Boogie song, It is clear to see his inspiration (if you have seen the Betty Boop cartoons or even the commentary of the film). Elfman said himself his inspiration was from the 1933 cartoon ‘Old man of the mountain’ which was a song performed by Cab Calloway (big jazz star). The line that I identified this at was, Santa: “What are you going to do?” Oogie:  “I’m gonna do the best I can”. he music was a terrific achievement. It added to the atmosphere of Halloween Town, and Christmas town.
The amazing thing about the film is how it is designed. Everything you see on screen had to be handmade; every tree, every character and every building! The world is highly original, and it really shows Burton’s artistic style at its best. The way the trees our shaped, and how the human figures are exaggerated (Santa is a perfect example). Therefore, you can see his style is much inherited from German Expressionism and the film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I loved Christmas town, because of the contrast it has with Halloween Town. You go from colourful, bright to dark, and grey. This film really shows Burton’s style at its best. I think I have watched the film around 30 times now at least. I remember a time when I watched it 3 days in a row. In addition, that shows how much this film takes you into a magical realm of fantasy.

Even its run time is 76 minutes, it’s one of those films that the characters have great quality and there is a lot to say about Burton’s world. Not many people will agree on this film being one of the best ever made, but it is certainly an animated wonder. It’s a film highly recommended to people of all ages, and leaves you with a smile and a feel good buzz at the end. It’s hard even sum this up in a few words, but it is warm, original and a delightful piece of work and every minute is enjoyable. Although I have given this such a high rating, I wouldn't call it my favourite musical of all time, but one of my favourite animated films because of it's artistically resonant style and beautiful story.

My Rating: 10/10


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