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The Nightmare Before Christmas
by Mónica Collado (Avanzado 2, 2008-2009) Still 1

Premiered in 1993, it has been recently rerun on the occasion of its 15th birthday and, this time, it is being shown in 3D format.

"The Nightmare before Christmas" is an animation film that was directed by Henri Shelick (in spite of it being frecquently attributed to Tim Burton, a famous filmaker known by films like "Edward Scissorhands" or "Sweeney Todd") and has Tim Burton as the author of the original idea on which the film is based and of its character design.

The story is about Jack Skeleton, the "soul" of the town of Halloween. He is in charge of the organization of the Halloween celebration year after year but, tired of his monotonous task, he decides to replace Santa Claus (without his consent) after finding out about the Christmas festivity. Unfortunately, despite his great effort, Jack will finally fail in his mission… (but I don't want to reveal the end of the movie).

Besides, the plot includes a love story between Jack and Sally – a rag doll – and, just like in other tales, there is a baddy: Oogie Boggie – the Bogeyman, a famous character in the Anglosaxon folklore.

Just like in Tim Burton's films, there is a Gothic and shady atmosphere and the main characters of this movie are monsters, dark and weird criatures belonging to mysterious legends and scary tales. However ugly the terrifying appearances, several of them are very cute because they are a bit naïve and have good feelings.

It's a story not only about Christmas but also about traditionally ostracized and "bad" characters. This is one of the reasons that makes this film original. Unlike classical Disney productions for children, the leading roles are not lovely princesses, brave knights or pretty pets but monsters… and they aren't beautiful or virtuous. However, they are capable of getting on with the member of the audience. The proof is the large amount of existing merchandising concerning this film and its characters.

Another fascinating thing is the technical process used to make this film: the characters are puppets brought to life by the technique of "stop motion". It consists of taking photographs of each movement of the puppets to get the illusion of real motion after editing. If you are interested in animation, I advice you to watch the making of this film – it's really fun and curious!

The soundtrack is a deciding factor in this film, something obvious taking into account that it's a musical. Music and lyrics were written by Danny Elfman, a composer that worked in other famous movies like "Mission: Impossible", "Batman", "Sleepy Hollow" or "The Corpse Bride", where he collaborated/talked with Burton in many occasions.

This film has been re-edited in a new format, 3-D. To enjoy it, you only need to wear a special pair of glasses. The movie seems more effective because the audience can almost "touch" the characters in several moments and the screen becomes a setting where you can distinguísh perfectly well where each element is placed (close-ups, background…) like in Magic Eye pictures, do you remember them?

"The Nightmare before Christmas" is an indispensable, beautifully weird Christmas tale. Most importantly, absolutely original. If you watch it, you will never forget Jack Skeleton and his friends and you will walk out the cinema humming and whistling its melodies, for sure!

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