‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Phenomenon

nightmare before christmas

The cinematic musical masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas, has become a worldwide phenomenon and a brand of its own over the many years since its release. The film, created by the legendary Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, originally premiered in 1993 and has never exited the cult classic limelight since then.

The unlikely original story of The Nightmare Before Christmas follows the likes of the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington who reigns over Halloween Town. The town knows no other holidays aside from Halloween in which the civilians plan a grand celebration for all year round. Jack Skellington is known for bringing forth the most frightful and terrifying events each Halloween, but begins to grow very tiresome of the same old thing and yearns for something new.

In Jack’s pursuit of new ideas, he stumbles across a series of magical doors amongst a dark forest that transport him to different realms. The door that Jack traverses through happens to be the one that leads to Christmas Town. The Pumpkin King then falls in love with the holiday of Christmas and aims to bring the holiday to Halloween Town. Mayhem ensues when Jack misunderstands the meaning of this foreign celebration and throws both worlds’ routines out of whack. It is then up to Jack to right his wrongs with the help of his friends all whilst dodging the cruel intentions of the evil Oogie Boogie Man.

The entire film is composed of stop-motion clay-mation production. The film is also a musical. All of these factors seemed completely unorthodox at the time of conception in the early 90’s, but Burton, undoubtably, had a stunning vision in mind that eventually lead to the current phenomenon.

The characters of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington in particular, have remained relevant for well over a decade. A frequent Halloween costume idea and a year round mascot for the darkly creative types, the skull of the Pumpkin King is constantly seen throughout the world. Aspects of the film are included in other forms of media such as best-selling video games like Kingdom Hearts and Disney Infinity. Movie theaters around the globe, including the historic El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles have frequent screenings of the film every Halloween season.

Tim Burton turned to his now-long-time business partner Danny Elfman for the film’s musical score which has become one of the most famous movie soundtracks to date. Elfman actually served as the singing voice of Jack Skellington in addition to writing every bit of the hauntingly beautiful music featured in the picture. Chris Sarandon served as Jack’s speaking voice while all other principal voice actors, including Catherine O’Hara and Broadway legend Ken Page, both sang and spoke for their characters.

One may question why The Nightmare Before Christmas has remained a worldwide phenomenon for so many years. Perhaps the answer lies within the relatable characters that almost anyone can find a common chord with. Other factors may be due to Elfman’s iconic music or even simply for the insanely original work created by Burton that cannot be replicated. As the Halloween and Christmas seasons approach, fans will begin to whip out their old videos of Burton’s masterpiece and reminisce on the glory that is The Nightmare Before Christmas.

By Cody Collier

Broadway World
Des Moines Register

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