Stop-motion animation has never been better. A short, sweet descent into imagination that bursts and blossoms at the seams with fantasy and horror married in perfect harmony. Arguably some of the finest character design and easily one of the most unforgettable musical compositions ever put to film. A joyous, wholly enchanting experience that radiates spirit beyond the holiday; worthy of all it’s praise and recognition. I am speaking, of course, of none other than the one and only, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Tired of scaring humans every October with the same old bag of tricks, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the king of Halloweentown, kidnaps Santa Claus (Edward Ivory) and plans to deliver shrunken heads and other ghoulish gifts to children on Christmas morning. However, as Christmas rapidly approaches, Jack’s rag-doll lady friend, Sally (Catherine O’Hara), attempts to foil his misguided plans and restore Christmas for all.
Contrary to popular belief, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was not directed by Tim Burton (“Beetlejuice”) but actually directed by the brilliant Henry Selick (“Coraline”). I find it intolerably unjust and rather problematic that so many overlook his involvement in the film and give all the praise and recognition to the equally as brillant, Tim Burton. Though Burton did in fact co-write the screenplay and was heavily involved in the creative process, when it came to actually bringing his imaginative vision to life, the credit should rightfully go to Mr. Selick.
I truly cannot even fathom that this film is nearly 30-years-old. It holds up unbelievably well. Creativity is leaking out of every composition of this visually stunning masterpiece. Every frame could be a painting hung proudly in your home. The way in which Henry Selick and his immensely talented team of artists pioneered stop-motion animation to bring a delightfully absurd, darkly macabre world to life is utterly profound.
Though the script lacks a complex narrative, it more than makes up for it with it’s wholly original world and colorful cast of characters. Danny Elfman’s (“Spider-Man”) score is phenomenal and truly, a work of art. The way in which the lyrics so eloquently tell this beautifully haunting tale and pierce your very soul is awe-inspiring.
Tim Burton’s ideas and his love for peculiar and haunting atmospheres are visible in every scene. The voice acting is pitch perfect and some of the finest put to animation (only rivaled by that of “The Lion King”). The voice actors are perfectly cast with the music by Danny Elfman being a major supporting character in of itself. The entire picture is an incomprehensible combination of brilliance that makes for a truly unforgettable experience. I wish I could go back and view this for the first time all over again.
A macabre, wonderfully dark and enchanting exploration of both Halloween and Christmas, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a stunning picture. Featuring ravishing voice work and electrifying musical numbers, a miraculous level of depth and detail; this film easily ranks as one of the best films to watch during the holiday season. Simply put, it’s lovely in the most ghoulishly demented way. A merrily 10/10.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.