The Intentions of Tim Burton

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The 1993 stop motion release of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, has captivated the hearts of millions with the musical wonders of Jack Skellington and the citizens of Halloween Town. The academy nominated film was greeted with open arms with both critical and financial success, grossing a whopping $76 million. However, desite the success of the movie and the love from the fans, one thing remained unclear: The plot.


Jack Skellington’s story begins in Halloween Town, a fantasy town filled with monsters, ghouls, vampires, and all things Halloween. Jack, the ‘Pumpkin King’ of the town’s Halloween tradition, goes for a walk, hoping for a change of scenery. While doing so, he stumbles upon seven trees, neatly aligned with doors representing different holiday. Jack, after opening a door furnished with a single Christmas tree, falls into a portal which leads him into Christmas Town.

Jack then works on intertwining the two worlds, which also jumbles up the perception of the movie, while consequently confusing the intention of director of Tim Burton. So with all of this information, the question remains: Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a joyful Christmas tale, or a spine chilling Halloween film?

Whilst conducting a survey and gathering the students’ opinions on the matter, one student, who requested to remain anonymous, told of an interesting fact, “Well, the movie is played twice a year so I really don’t know.” When asked for clarification, they said that the film is played on National Television is played once around Halloween, and another around the Christmas holiday.

The students who believed that Burton’s idea of the film was intentionally Halloween oriented,  all referred to the iconic song from the soundtrack, “This is Halloween”, and although this is a very important detail to the argument, the students weren’t going to leave it at that.

“Bro, the movie came out in October, so….yeah, Halloween.”, Lavorris Singletary said after being interrupted from eating his lunch. Alfonso Thomas VIII, adds on saying “Well, most of the movie is in Halloween Town, kinda hard to ignore that.” Christian Rader, a TV and film major, added his input with his wondrous knowledge on the film industry, “Anyone who disagrees with me is wrong!”

However, those who believed the film was Christmas based, take context from the film itself. Kyla Atchison goes in depth to effectively defend her stance, “Well, Jack Skellington does try to change Halloween into Christmas,” she says “can’t get any more clear than that.” Sloane Stice gives a direct and rather simplistic answer by going straight for the point. “Okay, so, you’ve seen the title? Yeah? I close my case”

However, the survey of 20 students came to the majority consensus. 80% of the surveyed students agreed that the film was primarily Halloween in orientation. 

The Nightmare before Christmas does show both sides of Christmas and Halloween, in more ways than a few. From the iconic song “This is Halloween” to Jack dressing up as Santa and gathering the town to congregate for the winter holiday, one question still remains: What were the intentions of Tim Burton?



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