Friday, November 25, 2011

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

This is a very special movie to me. Not only is it one of my favorite holiday movies, it's one of my favorite movies of all time. Being that it is a Tim Burton movie, the end result is going to be one of two things: You either love it or you hate it. There is usually no in-between when Tim Burton is involved. Now I do know that he didn't actually direct this movie, Henry Selick did. But it was based off of a poem that Burton wrote in his spare time, and the characters were created and drawn by him, and it also features music that was written by the talented Danny Elfman, so we might as well say that this is a Tim Burton movie. At least fans of his (myself being one of them) consider this to be a Tim Burton movie.

The concept and the story are both very creative, as well as the characters themselves, and it does answer the one question that some of us have often asked ourselves: What would happen if you tried to take two holidays that are complete opposites in terms of traditions and themes, and throw them together? Another reason why I love this movie is the animation. Stop-motion animation is a technique that is not employed very often, and has been losing popularity over the years. Sure, Rankin-Bass used it for their specials, and Robot Chicken uses it as well, but there aren't many movies coming out today that use it. And the reason is that it is a very hard and very time-consuming process. Rather than drawing the characters on paper or creating them on the computer, the animators instead have to build multiple models of the same character in different positions and take pictures of them, that is how they create the character's movements. That is the spark-noted version of how stop-motion works, but you get the idea. Jack Skellington alone had over 70 heads created for him because of the multiple expressions that he makes throughout the movie. Imagine having to do that with EVERY character that appears in the movie! And when you hear stories about how the most difficult shot for them to get was one of Jack's hand twisting a door-knob, I can't help but have respect for these people that went through hell to make this movie. When you also take into account that the movements are really well done and don't look robotic as a lot of stop-motion movies tend to do, that only makes the movie better. I respect people who try to tackle a hard art form, and I have even more admiration when they do it well. For this reason, among many others, I love this movie.

One of those other reasons that I love this movie is the music. Did I mention that Danny Elfman wrote the songs? Need I say more? A lot of the songs in this movie are good, but some are just plain underrated. Oogie Boogie's Song, This is Halloween, and What's This? are all wonderful, and those are just the songs that I could name off the top of my head.

I can't say this enough, but this is a great movie. The animation is great, the music is great, the characters are great and even the voice-acting is great. Again, when you consider that this was done using a rarely used animation technique, you really have to admit that this movie has some quality to it, even if you don't like the movie itself. At this day and age when it seems like every animated movie is being made through computer animation, one must take pause and give respect to the animators from before this era and the efforts they gave to make movies like this one possible. Not to say that I don't enjoy movies like Toy Story, Shrek, or The Incredibles, but with every animated movie being made like these ones, it really makes me wish that somebody would make another stop-motion or even a hand drawn animated movie just to shake things up, take us back to a similar time. If not for the kids of today, at least make it for the sake of my generation's nostalgia. Not to say that it should happen, but it would be nice.

Final Grade: A+
Yours truly,

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