The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Behold, the Tim Burton film that wasn’t actually directed by Tim Burton.

Not that I care, of course. It was still his idea.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of those films that is virtually incomparable, even 23 years after its release, and that’s because there’s still nothing else like it. The atmosphere is distinct, the characters are uniquely designed, and the premise is nothing shy of brilliant.

It centers on Jack Skellington, the slender, skinless “pumpkin king” of Halloween Town. He’s tired of their routine celebrations, and as he wanders in the woods, he finds the doors to all the major (American) holidays, being sucked into Christmas Town. Amazed at the wonder of it, Jack ends up taking over the town, which then results in Santa Claus being kidnapped by the evil Oogie Boogie man. Jack soon decides he must right his wrongs and save Santa Claus for the sake of all the children of the world awaiting his presents.

In all the years I’ve been watching this film, I can’t say the plot has ever been my favorite. The premise, yes, but not the plot. I love the idea of there being a Christmas Town and all, but the villain in Oogie Boogie has always been a tad lame. He just seems tacked on to the end, but then again, this is a children’s film, and they’re more forgiving of these things. I’ve always been more interested in how developed this world is, how each detail has its own little miracle of an oddity. That is what makes this film unlike any other, the fact that few worlds can match this one’s inventiveness. When considering the marvelous stop-motion animation involved, there’s no reason to criticize any flaws this film may have.

In my mind, something as singular as this film is worthy of all the praise it could ever receive.

4 Green

The Nightmare Before Christmas will be showing on Freeform’s 13 Nights of Halloween.

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