First developed as a poem by Tim Burton in 1982, The Nightmare Before Christmas would stew at the back of Burton's mind throughout the 1980s; the director slowly developing a name for himself with films like Batman (1989) and Beetlejuice (1988). In 1990, Burton approached Disney, slowly coming into its own with its animation department, with the idea to adapt his poem into a stop-motion animated movie, inspired by animated shorts like the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials. Disney accepted the idea under their Touchstone Pictures production company, which catered to those films which were considered more "grown-up" than was appropriate for the Disney brand.
As Burton was busy with the production of his sequel to Batman, Batman Returns, he got his friend Henry Selick to direct The Nightmare Before Christmas, which released in 1993 as an enormous financial and critical success. And in the decades have followed, the popularity of this movie has only gotten stronger, with The Nightmare Before Christmas now being considered a cult classic. the film helped to not only solidify Burton's unique visual aesthetic but paved the way for future high-budget stop-motion animated feature films. Films like Coraline, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Paranorman owe so very much to their spiritual ancestor.
But how good is this movie? Does its influence on the modern zeitgeist far out shadow its standalone presence?
Let's take a look and find out.
- Directed by Henry Selick
- Produced by Touchstone Pictures
- MPAA Rating: PG
- Running Time: 76 Minutes
VISUALS - 9/10
SOUNDTRACK - 10/10
CHARACTERS - 9/10
STORY - 8/10
FINAL THOUGHTSThe Nightmare Before Christmas is a holiday classic. This is a fact that cannot be denied. What also cannot be denied is the cultural impact that this movie has had since its release, but on general audiences and the film community. The Nightmare Before Christmas helped pave the way for stop-motion animation films by being a successful tribute to the classic Christmas specials from our childhoods, with the iconic twisted edge that is so definitively Burton.