The Nightmare Before Christmas
An interesting title that really needs no introduction due to its overall popularity, here's one I consider to be one of a few different titles you can enjoy for both Halloween and Christmas, although personally, I consider it more of a Halloween-focused movie, so here we are.
For the approximate two or three people out there who haven't seen this one, 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is a lovely, dark family musical from the early 90s. The film gives us an interesting concept of the world's holidays by showing us that somewhere out there, there's a forest with a series of doors that led to specialized towns for each holiday. However, we start in Halloween Town, where we're introduced to the King of Halloween, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon/Danny Elfman). Day in, day out, it's the same old routine for Jack, and things are getting kinda stale.
While Jack wonders off, lamenting about the dark and dull holiday, wishing for something more, he stumbles on the forest where he finds the doors leading to different holiday towns. The one he follows in particular is the one to Christmas Town, where he discovers the bizarre but very different traditions of Christmas, and decides it'd be a cool idea to kidnap Santa and take things over. In his mind, he's kinda just giving Santa a break, however there's more than meets the eye when it comes to trying to take over something he doesn't quite fully understand.
This movie is just a full fledged classic by today's standards, which is interesting, 'cause not a lot of people had much to say about it upon its initial release. However, since then, it has been re-released and re-released again with several different versions to chose from on DVD and Blu-ray, and it even gets a lot of theatrical play around this time of year if you know where to look. And don't even get me started on the merchandise that, at one time, was probably seen as clothing store Hot Topic's main fuel source. But why so popular?
I tend to see it as something as simple as just the dark look of everything coming along just a few years before the whole Goth trend took off, and it's a sort of easy go to as a "first goth thing". I personally see the trend landing somewhere between 'The Craft' and Marilyn Manson, but this predating both makes things much more debatable. And then there's just the whole underlying concept.
My personal takeaway from this is actually something that I don't think we see done a whole hell of a lot in film nowadays, although I'm sure I can be quickly corrected on it. The simplicity is that Jack tries to do something that he doesn't fully understand, and not much more than disaster comes from any of it. Basically, the underlying moral is just don't try to tackle something you don't know. I, myself, have found myself in this boat with a few of my reviews; it's a good thing to try to understand and support, but to put it in my own words, there's always that remote chance I could land myself in trouble with people claiming "he just doesn't get it". That's kinda what's going on here with Jack. I'd consider it a cautionary tale of sorts.
However, at the end of the day, one might just wanna take this as a family friendly musical, good for anywhere between October and December. The film has a lovely soundtrack, likable characters (good and bad), interesting concepts, cool animation, and a beautifully dark sense of humour. There's nothing quite like the scene where a kid pulls a shrunken head from his Christmas gift, freaking his parents out. So take from it what you will, but either way, it's a must-watch for this time of year. And hey, if you miss it at Halloween, you've still got Christmas to look forward to.
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