[personal profile] reece0

Halloween is just around the corner, so I thought I'd take the opportunity this week to write about a classic among animated movies that's not only seasonally appropriate, but that also happens to be personally important to me: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The first time I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas was at a ripe young age — I hadn't even hit double-digits yet if I recall correctly. Maybe that's why, even though this movie is targeted toward children, it remains one of my favorites to watch around Halloween. My watching this movie marked my first ever exposure to "claymation," the method of animation used in this movie that is comprised of taking many still shots of clay figurines and sequencing these into film. Now, I don't know if my being an impressionable little kid the first time I watched this movie had anything to do with this, but this movie remains, to this day, my absolute, number one favorite use of claymation that I have ever seen, in movies or otherwise. It’s been my observation that the artistic medium of animation frees a film's creators to come up with visual and auditory wonders that are truly outlandish relative to what is possible with conventional live-action filmmaking. This freedom is taken full advantage of in Nightmare: in every scene, color, motion and light interplay seamlessly to stunning effect, with a masterful score by veteran Hollywood composer Danny Elfman a perfect complement to what's on screen (Nightmare is a musical feature, if I didn't mention that).

The plot of this movie follows a straightforward “voyage and return” arc. The main character is top spook in the mystical land of “Halloween Town” who finds himself weary of the too-familiar culture of spookiness around him, and so wanders into the outskirts of town. Here he finds a door to a fantasy world parallel to his own, “Christmas Land,” where reside Santa Claus and a bounty of elves, snow, and presents. He returns to tell his fellow residents of Halloween Town of his discovery, and rallies them behind him in an effort to make all things Christmas Land their own. The main character dons Santa’s red suit and cap while the rest of Halloween Town collectively procure a heap of nightmarish presents for him to bring to the boys and girls of the world on Christmas night. Tragically, yet inevitably, Halloween Town's efforts are met with catastrophic failure: the world’s children are horrified to find, where they had expected candy or new toys, boxes full of bats or severed heads. Our main character sees that, despite his efforts to change himself and his community in order to assimilate Christmas Land and all its novelty, spreading fear is all that he and his kin are able to do. So the main character sheds his red suit, lets Santa Claus resume his rightful role, and returns happily to Halloween Town to focus on being the most fearsome freak he can be.

To conclude:
 The Nightmare Before Christmas is, without a doubt, my top-choice, go-to movie companion for the Halloween season. It makes for the perfect "spooky" night in. If you can find the time I would definitely recommend you check it out!

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Jack Reece

December 2014

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