Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop motion animation, musical film made in 1993 by Disney.  Even though this film is an animation, it was obviously intended for an older audience.  The film may be too scary for a little one.  The Nightmare Before Christmas can be interpreted as a take on classic stop motion films.  Although this film is a musical, it is not your average musical.  Tim Burton is known for thinking outside the box and this film adheres to that.  All of the creatures and people in this film are distorted and strange looking.  Burton creates an interesting world that draws the viewer in.  In Tim Burton’s book Burton on Burton published in 1995, Burton talks about his inspiration for making The Nightmare Before Christmas.  "The initial impulse for doing it was for the love of Dr Seuss and those holiday specials that I grew up watching, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Those crude stop-motion animation holiday things that were on year in, year out make an impact on you early and stay with you...the impulse was to do something like that" (Burton 115).



The underlying message of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, is that we have good ideas and intentions but there will always be people that misinterpret them and discredit us.  We all have people in our lives that bring us down but you have to get back up and keep trying.  Always do your best.  "He was into that whole psychological thing of being pieced together...the feeling of not being together and of being loosely stitched together and constantly trying to pull yourself together, so to speak, is just a strong feeling to me" (Burton 123).  Tim Burton wanted to give this message in his own way and he definitely did.  Another message in this film is that we all desire change.  The main character is Jack Skellington.  He is tired of doing the same old routine every year for Halloween.  Jack is longing for change.  Jack is walking deep into a forest and eventually comes upon Christmas Town.  Jack finds a new meaning in life, Christmas.  Jack ultimately finds out that change may have not been the best thing after all.  When Jack had good intentions to bring Christmas cheer and dress as Santa, the people of Christmas Town were afraid of him instead.  Scaring people was what Jack was originally good at.  Jack Skellington tried to become someone he wasn’t and he created chaos by pushing Santa out of his role.  We all get tired of the same old mundane things in our life.  We enjoy change and excitement in life but too much change can be bad.  This film gives us the message to be who you are and do not try to be someone else.  



The appeals of ethos, pathos and logos are all contained in this film.  The film’s message is logical because everyone desires change and wants to try new things.  Logically we have all had failures that we have had to recover from and this film demonstrates that.  The Nightmare Before Christmas is very consistent throughout the film in the story, characters, and message.  These are appeals to logos.  This film seeks credibility in that it is so different from the norm in musicals and stop motion animation films.  Tim Burton successfully presents his message in an unconventional yet, credible approach.  Tim Burton is credible just because his films are odd and different.  Also if the viewer enjoyed the messages in any of Tim Burton’s other films, they would surely appreciate The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Ethos is achieved through credibility in this film.  Pathos is the largest appeal in this film.  The Nightmare Before Christmas pulls at your emotions and imagination as you take in the world that Tim Burton has created.  The messages may be hard to catch at first in this film just because you imagination is wrapping around all the characters, songs, and scenery.



Most of the messages in The Nightmare Before Christmas are positive, however, there are some negative messages.  After Jack frees Santa Clause, Santa ends up saving Christmas, not Jack.  Even after Santa saves Christmas, Jack is credited for saving the day.  This could teach us that others will fix our mistakes, which is untrue.  It could also communicate that it is ok to take credit for something that you did not do.  Sally is a rag doll that scientist Dr. Finklestein created so that he could have an intelligent companion to spend time with.  Sally ends up drugging Dr. Finklestein and running away.  This could send a bad message about drugs and that running away from home is ok.  The message that ultimately wins out in The Nightmare Before Christmas is the cliché message of picking yourself back up.  Tim Burton says that he likes this message in his book.  Burton effectively portrays this message in the film.  I would like to say this message is unique to this film but it is not.  Disney movies commonly have this message as well as the other messages that were presented in this film.  All the arguments made in this film are values we deal with everyday.  “Arguments about the present are often arguments about contemporary values – that is, the beliefs and assumptions that are widely held (or debated) within a society” (Lunsford 18).  I do not think children could pick up on any of the messages presented but adults could easily see the hidden agenda.      



The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a classic stop motion animation in contemporary film.  The Nightmare Before Christmas is unlike many stop motion films I have seen, because of the abnormal creatures and unusual plot.  I enjoyed this film, as I had not seen it before this assignment.  I would rate this film four out of five slurpees just because of some of the negative arguments made.


Works Cited

Burton, Tim. Salisbury, Mark, . Burton on Burton: Revised Edition. Revised ed. Vol. . : Faber & Faber; Revised edition, 2000. Pg. 115-123.

Lunsford, Andrea. Ruskiewicz, John. Walters, Keith. Everything’s An Argument with readings.  2010. Pg. 18.


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