Tim Burton’s tale of Jack the Pumpkin King was released in the US on 29th October 1993, making it 21 years ago today.
Based on a poem written by Burton in 1982, it wasn’t until 1993 that The Nightmare Before Christmas became a fully realised feature length film after original plans to make it a 30 minute short were dismissed.
The beautifully crafted stop-motion musical follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, and his somewhat uninformed attempt at trying to bring Christmas to Halloween Town. The clash between Halloween and Christmas evokes many complications along the way, with Jack taking over the role of Christmas Town’s beloved Santa Claus (or, ‘Sandy Claws’) and exposes how silly our Christmas traditions may look to an outsider.
The film was released under Touchstone Pictures after being deemed “too dark” to be associated with Disney, most likely due to the eerie, gothic feel of the settings and characters. That said, Jack Skellington’s endearing search for the Christmas holiday and romance with Sally (a rag-doll like girl created by Dr Finklestein) is surprisingly heart-warming, and turns out to have the same themes as many Disney films, particularly the convention battle between good and evil.
The Nightmare Before Christmas’s success can even be recognised by its featuring in Blink-182’s ‘I Miss You’ with the proposition of living like Jack and Sally and having Halloween on Christmas.
Since its release, director Henry Selick has directed an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline in a similarly gothic style, along with Tim Burton bringing us Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie.
Relive Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas by watching the original trailer below.