Friday, August 29, 2008
Based on a book that Burton wrote and illustrated, the film of The Nightmare Before Christmas remains true to the author's topsy-turvy perspective in which Halloweentown's Pumpkin King tries to usurp Santa Claus in Christmastown for the most horrifying yule time in history. Halloween has just passed and the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon and sung by composer Danny Elfman) is feeling a bit low. He's grown bored with horrifying rituals of Halloween and longs for something more fulfilling. Then he stumbles into Christmas town-- with it's snow, bright lights and pretty packages-and he sees the solution to his holiday doldrums. He must be a part of this cheery holiday, he must be Santa. So he sends off a trio of first class trick or treaters named Lock, Shock and Barrel to kidnap good ole St. Nick. Jack cannot see what could possible go wrong but Sally (voiced by Catherina O'Hara) , the Rag Doll, does and she tries to prevent Jack from wreaking complete havoc with the holidays.
Trick or treat? The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney)
Burton handpicked Henry Selick, also a former Disney animator and a stop motion animator and director in his own right, to helm The Nightmare Before Christmas . Their collaboration was so successful that they would team again in 1996 for the film adaptation of Roal Dahl' James and the Giant Peach . Both films reveal the clever visual humor of Burton and Selick and their dark, innovative stop motion animation. They never "dumb" down their film for kids but rather fill the frame with layers of details, jokes and inspiration so that repeat viewing is a must. Like Chicken Run (from the inventive Aardman Studios), The Nightmare Before Christmas , has a darkness running through it but also an appealingly offbeat sense of humor that allows parents and kids to find different things to laugh at.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney)
The film also benefits from Danny Elfman's music and songs. Unlike most kids' film which seem obliged to add sappy romantic songs or saccharine sweet ones, Nightmare offers lively, clever songs which are more musically and lyrically complex than most children's films allow.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a welcome reissue since good kids' movies are so rare. And what's even rarer is a kids film that audiences of all ages can enjoy. This new version is very similar to the earlier collector's edition that was released. The studio apparently has recognized this and is offering a $10 rebate to "current owners" of any previously released Nightmare DVD. There is a new commentary by Burton on the included short Frankenweenie , and all-new audio commentary by Burton, Elfman and Selick. You also get a disk for downloading a "Disneyfile" digital copy that can be watched on your MAC or iTunes compatible device.
Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, Edward Scissorhands, Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit