Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

(Tim Burton's) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

(Tim Burton's) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

In Tim Burton's (and director Henry Selick's) imaginatively dark, musical fantasy and original yet twisted tale - it was also known as "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas." It was based on the parodic poem of the same name by visionary producer Burton, written when he was a Disney animator; the charming yet macabre film, the first full-length stop-motion animated film, was an extraordinary achievement and ground-breaking in its use of computers to aid the complex, painstaking stop-motion animation process. There was amazing technical brilliance displayed with stop-motion animated puppets and originally-composed songs (by Danny Elfman); it had wonderfully-realized set designs -- such as the two holiday dream-worlds: the dark, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-ish and The Night of the Hunter-ish Halloween Town, and the round, bright Christmas Town (based on Seuss' artwork, reminiscient of Whoville):

  • the amazing opening "This Is Halloween" was performed by the denizens of Halloween Town (spooks, goblins, ghosts, witches, skeletons, and other creatures, etc.), the song introduced their locale
  • the main character was a bored, depressed, gaunt and skeletal Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon with Elfman supplying his singing voice), known as the 'Pumpkin King' of Halloween Town - he wore a black pin-striped suit complete with a bat bow-tie and black dress shoes
  • Jack's existential torch song "Jack's Lament" was performed while shy rag-doll Sally (Catherine O'Hara), his future understanding and loyal girlfriend, eavesdropped on him in the graveyard as he climbed to the top of a curlicue hill (silhouetted by the full moon): ("...Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones / An emptiness began to grow..."); he had grown weary of his repetitive role as the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town's pagan holiday
"This is Halloween"
"Jack's Lament"
  • Jack discovered in the woods, through one of many holiday portals (Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.), the enchanting, radically-different snowy, fun-filled and sparkling Christmas Town; he delivered a show-stopping song-and-dance "What's This?" in reaction to the joyous nature of Christmas Town, with snowmen, ice-skating, elves, polar bears, strings of brightly-colored lights, and candycanes, mistletoe, chestnuts roasting on a fire: ("There's children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads, they're busy building toys and absolutely no one's dead!...")
The Entry-Portal (on a Tree Trunk) to Christmas Town, and
Jack's First View of Christmas Town
  • once Jack returned and held a town meeting with Halloween Town's citizens, Jack described what Christmas was all about (wrapped gifts, Xmas trees, stockings), including a red-suited man named Santa Claus (interpreted as "Sandy Claws") with a reindeer sled
  • because of Jack's obsession with trying to capture the town's jollyness, he requested that three devilish trick-or-treat children (Lock, Shock, and Barrel) be sent on a secret mission to kidnap the leader of Christmas Town; they contemplated their plan with the song "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" (although their first mistaken abductee was the Easter Bunny!)
  • Sally (with the psychic power of premonition) came to warn Jack of his misguided plans ("But it seems wrong to me, very wrong"); he assigned her to sew a red Santa suit for him
  • in the "Making Christmas" sequence, Jack assigned Christmas-type jobs to everyone in Halloween Town, such as making presents, and building a sleigh, but was unaware that the citizens were making unbelievably frightening presents placed in gift boxes
  • Jack's well-meaning but disastrous mission to kidnap the leader of Christmas Town put Santa Claus into jeopardy, when the jolly white-bearded Santa was taken to his evil gambler-rival - the Oogie-Boogie Man (Ken Page)
  • with imposter Jack in a Santa suit commandeering a coffin-shaped sleigh pulled by reindeer skeletons, Jack steered the sleigh to Christmas Town - - he delivered scary Halloween gifts instead of Christmas gifts - there were images of terrified children opening up their horrific presents: ("And what did Santa bring you, honey?") (i.e., a shrunken head, a scary yellow duck, bats, a large toy snake that ate Christmas trees, etc.)
  • after being blown up in the sky by the military, and landing back in Halloween Town's cemetery, in the fantastic "Poor Jack" song - Jack realized his mistake and sang a torch song in an angel headstone's arms - lamenting: "What have I done? / What have I done? / How could I be so blind?"
  • Jack rescued both Sally and Santa Claus from the Oogie-Boogie Man, who was unmasked (when a thread was pulled from his garment) and revealed to be a swirling mass of bugs under his garment; Jack apologized to Santa Claus/Kris Kringle ("I'm afraid I've made a terrible mess of your holiday"), who reprimanded Jack but then assured him that he could magically return to Christmas Town and fix things
  • in the sweet, triumphant and romantic finale again set in the graveyard, Jack finally realized his love for Sally; he spied Sally stealing away to pluck petals from a flower on the top of the snowy curlicue hill, silhouetted by the full moon; he approached her, and while clutching his breast, he sang about his attraction to her: (Jack: "My dearest friend, if you don't mind, I'd like to join you by your side. Where we can gaze into the stars" Jack and Sally (in union): "And sit together, now and forever, for it is plain as anyone can see, we're simply meant to be")
  • as the film ended - the couple embraced in the light of a full moon and kissed, as Jack's red-nosed, ghostly pet dog Zero flew into the sky to become a sparkling star

Jack Skellington
(The Pumpkin King)

Rag-Doll Sally

The Mayor of Halloween Town

Christmas Town Sign

Jack's Explanation of Christmas Practices

Jack's Request For Townsfolk to Make A Sleigh

Lock, Shock, and Barrel on Secret Mission to Kidnap Santa Claus

"Making Christmas"

Santa Claus Kidnapped

The Oogie-Boogie Man

"And What Did Santa Bring You, Honey?"

Christmas Tree Snake

"Poor Jack "

Unmasking of the Oogie-Boogie Man


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