Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wednesday Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas

This week’s review is an old Christmas classic (I know it’s the middle of October, but hey, this is what I’m supposed to be watching for class) The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Nightmare Before Christmas  is a claymation Tim Burton film, and if you study films, specifically directors, you’ll know that they tend to have a certain style that they do a lot because they’re good at that style. The Nightmare Before Christmas  is a prime example of something that Tim Burton does very well in his own unique manner (not saying that claymation is unique, just saying his way is unique). Oddly enough, however, Tim Burton is not the director of this film (contrary to popular belief) because Burton was busy with another film project at the time (Batman Returns ) however he did remain on as a producer.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Title Card

I’m sure many of you have seen the film, but for those of you who haven’t, allow me to give a brief synopsis of the film. Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town (I guess this review kinda fits for the month, Halloween is only a couple weeks away) is tired of doing the same thing every year. He then discovers Christmas Town and decides that he wants to run Christmas this year and tries to get all the other ghosts and ghouls into it. And of course Oogie Boogie is there to get in the way of him. So enough of this, and on to the review!

Review after the break. 

The opening scene is a bird’s eye view shot of seven trees forming a circle. The camera zooms down and amidst the trees to show that each tree has a drawing on it that faces in towards the circle. The narrator (later revealed to be Santa Claus) explains that this story is set a long time ago in the holiday worlds of old (he says it in a rhyme, makes it seem poetic), each drawing on the trees represents a holiday. There is a heart representing Valentine’s Day, a four-leaf clover for Saint Patrick’s Day, an Easter Egg representing, well, Easter, a turkey representing Thanksgiving, a Christmas Tree representing Christmas, a pumpkin representing Halloween, and I have no idea what the seventh one is. Looks like a box with stars on it and a feather on top? I dunno. Anyway, having all these different holidays represented as separate worlds so close together is an interesting concept to me. As the narrator continues his poem, we zoom into the pumpkin tree, the drawing of the pumpkin is actually a door which swings open to let us into the world.

Once inside the tree to Halloween Town we’re immediately treated to a trademark of children’s films, a song! “This is Halloween” begins to play and we get to see quite a lot of detail about the world that we’ve been introduced to. The song shows us a wide variety of monsterous creatures and classical Halloween beings that live in this town. They all sing about who they are and what they like to do, which just happens to be scare people ... a lot. We’re told that Jack is the best there is at Halloween scares, and everyone in the town loves him. We get introduced to Sally, a Frankenstien-esque girl who wants to go out into the world but her creator (kinda looks like some evil duck, almost like he could have come out of Duck Tales ) won’t let her go. And of course we get a small glimpse of Oogie Boogie, the main antagonist of the film.

There’s like what, two minutes between the first song and the second one? That will get really annoying.

I like how Jack throws a piece of his rib cage for the dog.

Wait a minute, wait a minute! If Jack can just walk from his house to the magical forest that separates worlds, then what is the point of those trees? Shouldn’t he have to walk out of the Halloween tree to get to this forest? What’s this?

Oogie Boogie in the moon.
Hmm, I just realised there is an object at the base of each tree that also represents each holiday.

Okay, why is it that in the song “What’s This?” Jack doesn’t know what snow is called, yet he knows that a snowball is called a snowball?

I enjoy the fact that Jack is reading a book entitled “The Scientific Method” nothing about this movie is scientific at all! Well, except maybe the Frankenstein dude ...

I don’t think Jack understands what science is.

Ah yes, the joys of being dead. You can jump out of a window several stories up and it’ll all turn out okay.

The animation in this film is superb. The way that emotions are displayed, particularly on the characters faces, is almost real. Like the scene were Sally delivers the basket the Jack then goes off and hides, the look on her face alone made me believe that she was in love with him.

Hurm, so she picks a flower, it suddenly turns into a Christmas tree, then it burns away. That was done for symbolism and foreshadowing, but I’m not entirely sure why it happened in the context of the plot.

For a guy who has previously only known scaring and evil, Jack sure is kind hearted and nice. The things Christmas can do to you.
I just thought that face was funny.

HA! The scientist would have an Igor!

It sure did take those kids a long time to catch Santa Claus. Took them over a month! They got the Easter Bunny in a couple of days!

Oogie Boogie is a gambling man ... who always rolls snake eyes.

The scene with Oogie Boogie’s first appearance looks pretty sweet! They definitely used black light for this scene.

I don’t understand why Sally has premonitions.

The kid that Jack just gave a present too looks like the Puffs commercial kid.

Are people really that dumb? Let’s send in the military to catch someone impersonating Santa Claus! Because that NEVER happens! And while we’re at it, let’s kill him too, you know, because he’s ALREADY DEAD! Morons.

I don’t understand why in Christmas movies people always think that Christmas will have to be cancelled if there is no Santa Claus to deliver toys. There’s more to Christmas than toys and Santa Claus, a lot more. It’s the spirit of Christmas that makes it what it is, the time for you to spend with your loved ones, celebrating the good that has happened, and for those of the Christian faith it’s also a celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday. It’s not always about Santa you know. That’s just how commercialized the holiday is. Charlie Brown had it right you know.
Symbolism, I choose you!

Wow, Jack lands in the arms of an angel. Symbolism, I choose you!

When they shot a pumpkin right at the viewer it totally threw me off. So not used to having something on screen fly right at my face.

The Nightmare Before Christmas  isn’t your conventional Hollywood film. There isn’t a main bad guy or group of bad guys to oppose the protagonist, in fact the main antagonist is barely even there. The antagonist is more like a person’s self, that is to say, their ignorance of other cultures that are foreign to what they know. The film is in claymation, which is always nice to see, there is a lot of music, but it’s all good music. There is a moral to the story, something that I think films leave out a lot nowadays. A lot happens in the film, but it’s never too much for the viewer to take in.

What’s this? What’s this? I give it 8/10! How queer!
Jack Skellington in front of the moon. With Zero.

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