It’s that time again! Leaves are turning and falling on the ground, pumpkin spice is back, and something is lurking in every corner.
As we all gather around the TV to watch our favorite cult classics, one infamous skeleton should definitely appear on your screen. His name is Pumpkin Jack and he’s king of Halloween town! But when the same old boos and howls aren’t enough for Jack, he ventures in search for something else.
Only the incredibly talented and outlandish creative Tim Burton could produce a film that is set in Halloween, but has the spirit of Christmas! This dual theme classic is a great fit for both seasons—but the story is why it’s my favorite pick for Halloween!
The film starts out with the citizens of Halloween town welcoming the audience with the chilling opening song of “This is Halloween.” We meet Sally: a young rag doll made by the town scientist, and who is locked up by him repeatedly. After Jack successfully completes another Halloween, he experiences a bout of sadness, feeling lost as what to do next. When Jack stumbles upon the holiday of Christmas he is swept away—literally—by the bright lights, crisp snow, and warm feelings.
What is extraordinary about this film is the authenticity of the story, and the positioning of the characters as they battle with their stall in life.
You have Jack, who is willing with all his might to Christmas to fit into another season. So much so, that he spins the very idea of Christmas into something that takes on a more sinister persona.
Even when Sally tries to warn against Jack taking on Christmas, he is adamant that it will take place anyway.
In the same breath, we can take Sally: a rag doll who has the true potential to be a heroine to Jack and to her community.
Sally, who was made to fulfill a certain role, can only escape the confinement of her life by drugging her captor, or literally jumping out of window. Each character is living out their own horror, in the sense that they are trapped in certain aspects of their lives with no clear grasp how to get out of it.
The ingenious irony behind Nightmare Before Christmas, is that the very thing Jack was trying to escape was not only something he subconsciously embraced, but something he pushed heavily upon others.
Jack stole the H.S.I.C. (Head Santa In Charge) from his town, which landed Santa in the death clutches of Oogie Boogie. Jack’s horror-filled take over of Christmas left children inflected with nightmares, heads in the stocking stuffers, and other terrifying afflictions. Sally was so desperate to stop Jack’s plan that she sabotaged it as much as she could, and landed herself in danger to save Santa Clause.
Essentially, Jack wanted desperately to escape being the King of Terror; but in his frantic pursuit of something different, the King of Terror is exactly what he became.
I think this lesson is one that can easily be taken for granted, because when faced with a stall in your life, and then not knowing how to gain momentum, it can become extremely discouraging. However, going to the extreme and being or imitating something that your not can lead to dire consequences.
It was only after Jack was left in the state of his own destruction, that he came to the realization of his true talent and love for Halloween. Of course, the ending of this movie is ‘Disneyfied’ with Jack saving Santa Clause, Christmas being restored, and Jack and Sally living happy ever after—but it’s the lesson that sticks with me.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a classic tale that speaks to the truth behind the horrors of forcing yourself to become something you’re not, rather than staying true to yourself.
There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with Jack wanting to pursue Christmas—but he is a master at Halloween fair, because that’s who he is. It was only when he finally accepted that, that Jack was able to elevate Christmas, as well as bring it and its joyful influences to Halloween town.
Not to mention, we as an audience get to see it all play out in one of the best holiday films ever.
So while your getting your scares in order this Halloween, let the famous tale of this elegant Skeleton give you a pleasant fright you’ll never forget!