Nightmare Before Christmas, The (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas continues Tim Burton’s exploration of the outsider who thinks that he wants to be part of the world of the “normals” but then discovers through traumatic interaction that his nature is not compatible with theirs. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, stumbles upon the world allocated to Christmas, and decides to understand it by doing it better. So he kidnaps “Sandy Claws” and makes the various monstrous denizens of his holiday world turn their talents toward Christmas production, with amusingly disastrous results. This animated film is amazingly rendered in technologically updated techniques mastered by George Pal in his puppetoons. There is a European sensibility of Caligarian angles and Cray-like characters that is nothing sort of stunning. Danny Elfman has wrought a deft score with delightful songs (he quite wonderfully sings Jack’s role himself). Particularly fun is the “Making Christmas” song with Dies Irae melodic refrain. This should certainly prove to be a new classic that will make an appearance every Halloween.
[- Peter H. Gilmore]