In 1993, Tim Burton and Henry Selick decided to give us something fun. Something we've talked about for years to come. A film that blended our two favorite holidays to form The Nightmare Before Christmas. The story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, becoming bored with Halloween and trying to take over Christmas is one of the most rewatched Halloween films every year.
With Halloween just around the corner, here are a few reasons why the film is considered a classic.
1. Danny Elfman
You could write a novel about everything Elfman gave to this film. His score is phenomenal. His score is at times soothing, light, quirky, and haunting. He finds the musical notes that make Christmas and Halloween tunes popular. In addition, he wrote extremely catchy and iconic songs that perfectly represent the joy behind the scares that make Halloween so special.
He even provides the singing voice for Jack Skellington and he's fantastic. He gives him so much personality and expresses his feelings about Halloween with his voice. While many credit this as a Burton film, Danny Elfman is the real MVP of Nightmare.
2. The Animation
Many credit this film as the one that brought back stop-motion animation. And for good reason. The stop-motion, even 25 years later, is fantastic. The characters move and flow perfectly with very few if any, movement errors. Also, the backgrounds are gorgeous, composed with cooky and beautiful buildings and striking skies.
Combined with the unique and fun character designs, and you get a beautifully animated film.
3. Jack Skellington
Jack Skellington is a fantastic character. He is board with doing the same jobs every Halloween and wants to provide something new. This is a fantastic plight as many people, no matter what profession, have some form of a burnout. However, he discovers Christmasland and, despite not fully understanding the holiday, becomes intrigued.
Even though he fails at creating a great Christmas, he still enjoys himself and learns that blindly taking over another holiday isn't always right. That doesn't mean that he should completely reject Christmas, it just means that he should learn more about the holiday.
On top of a great protagonist, Sally adds intelligence and a unique insight into the film. Created to serve a mad genius, Sally overcomes her formation of being a simple slave, rag doll and falls in love with Jack. She's the only real sane person in Halloweentown that realizes that this idea will be a disaster and tries hard to warn Jack.
She even almost saves Santa Clause from Oogie Boogie (who we'll get to in a bit). Sally provides rational thought into this mad, mad world and is rewarded when Jack finally sees here intelligence and beauty. Not to mention, that Catherine O'Hara is fantastic voicing the character and her character design is fantastic.
5. The World Building
Simply put, Burton and Selick created a fantastic world. The people of Halloweentown scream Halloween (literally). They're strange, twisted, and sometimes horrifying, but also kind and charming. Even though they don't understand Christmas, they give it their best effort and put together the most unique Christmas ever seen.
As far as storytelling, the film is simple but effective. You can tell from every moment that Jack's Christmas will be a disaster. From Sally picking a flower that burns up after displaying a Christmas image to the inherent madness in every following song, Jack's plan just isn't well put together.
Also, the lack of a character to mean even for Halloweentown are not the best people to tell Santa that he's getting the year off. However, Jack does, in fact, come to his senses. He rescues Santa from Oogie Boogie and learns to respect Christmas but not take it over.
The film is a great narrative about the holiday. While not particularly scary, The Nightmare Before Christmas is charming and it takes an interesting look at understanding different groups. Skellington learns not to take over other people's jobs and finds the enjoyment in Halloween. Not to mention he still respects Christmas and the beauty of that holiday. All in all, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a holiday classic that will be talked about for many more years to come.