“The Nightmare Before Christmas” Celebrates 30th Anniversary Today

Tim Burton’s seminal stop-motion classic turns 30 years old today

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” Celebrates 30th Anniversary Today

The genesis of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” started with a Poem by Tim Burton. He wrote it during his time as a Disney animator in the early 1980’s. With the success of Burton’s short-film “Vincent” in 1982, Disney started to consider “The Nightmare Before Christmas “as either a short-film or 30-minute television special. Over the years, Burton’s thoughts regularly returned to the project, and in 1990, Burton and Disney made a development deal. Production started in July 1991 in San Francisco. Walt Disney Pictures decided to release the film under their Touchstone Pictures banner because they thought that the film would be “too dark and scary for kids.” The film revolves around the King of Halloween Town, our hero Jack Skellington, a pinstripe clad skeleton dedicated to making each October 31st scarier than the last. One day, while out walking his ghost dog Zero, he stumbles upon another holiday town. In this charming place, everything is covered in snow, everyone is happy and, to his surprise, “absolutely no one’s dead”. It is ‘ruled’ by a jolly, fat man dressed in red who delivers presents to all the good girls and boys on Christmas Eve. Jack falls in love with Christmas Town and wants the holiday for himself, but after taking the place of Santa Claus he discovers it is not quite as easy as he first thought. On his journey of self-discovery, Jack discovers Sally, a stitched-up doll created by a mad scientist, who has loved him from afar and tries to help him when things go wrong. The original ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ poem was written after Burton had completed the short stop-motion film “Vincent” back in the early Eighties. Hammer horror Actor Vincent Price had narrated Burton’s short stop-motion mini-movie “Vincent” back in 1982 and Burton had him in mind to narrate his new Halloween tale too. Sadly Price’s wife passed away the year earlier and Burton found his voice to be too sad. The film was met with both critical and financial success and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, a first for an animated film. The film has since been reissued by Walt Disney Pictures and was re-released annually in Disney Digital 3-D from 2006 until 2009, making it the first stop-motion animated feature to be entirely converted to 3D. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a major step forward for both stop-motion animation, which is stunningly well used, and for Tim Burton himself.

By Ken Warren, 2017

Origin: U.S.A
Released: 1993
Directed by: Henry Selick
Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara

Watch the original 1993 “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Trailer

The original “The Nightmare Before Christmas” poem by Tim Burton beautifully animated and narrated by Christopher Lee

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