Point: Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or a Christmas Classic?

Sevilla Tovar, News Editor

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a renowned holiday movie. The movie has propelled the protagonist, Jack Skellington, to a pop icon famous enough for people to speculate his appearance in movies such as Princess and the Frog, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline, among others. Despite its popularity, there remains a question not many fans know the answer to; what holiday is the movie even about? There is only one correct answer, and that is the movie is a Christmas movie (insider.com).

According to the movie’s Disney encyclopedia page, the movie came from a poem Tim Burton wrote in 1982. The story follows the king of Halloween, Jack Skellington, as he finds his sense of identity outside his beloved, but repetitive holiday. After accidentally coming across the land of Christmas, he becomes obsessed with its unfamiliarity. He tries to explain Christmas to his town mates, and their grave miscommunications lead to an unfortunate series of events. The town of Halloween attempts to take over Christmas, and even though it worked out poorly, it helped to reunite a town bored of previous traditions (disney.fandom.com).

Even with its overall praise, there remains a rift amongst the movie’s fans. Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or not? It isn’t. The answer is that simple. What part of embracing the holiday spirit, albeit in a unique way, sounds remotely like Halloween? Sophomore Mikey Magpali agreed, stating, “When Jack finds Christmas Town, he’s only trying to become the new Santa Claus. The movie has nothing to do with Halloween, except for the background of the characters.”

Obviously, there will be those that disagree. They’ll argue that since the movie’s protagonist is the king of Halloween and the majority of the movie is set in the land of Halloween, the movie is inherently about the spooky holiday. The man who originally thought of the plot, Burton, directed Halloween movies with similarly depressing tones, such as Frankenweenie. In addition, the director himself, Henry Selick, said that the movie was about Halloween (radiotimes.com).

Those who argue that it is a Halloween film have many flaws in their thought process. For example, look at the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was directed by Burton. It has the unsettling aspect he is well accredited for, but lacks any mention of Halloween. Something being creepy and being related to Halloween aren’t synonymous, Burton just has a dark imagination and directing style. Danny Elfman wrote and composed songs, and voiced three characters for The Nightmare Before Christmas. When he was asked about the movie in an interview by USA Today, he claimed, “It’s obviously about Christmas” (usatoday.com).

Even if the movie’s setting and characters are Halloween-themed, those who believe it is a Halloween story fail to remember that the movie’s main focus is Christmas. The climax takes place on Christmas Eve, and the main conflict of the movie entails a person trying to be someone they aren’t, which happens to be Jack Skellington posing as Santa Claus.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was, and remains to be, a Christmas classic. Its spooky elements give a unique twist that differentiates it from all the other Christmas movies. The movie showcases the struggle of self-identity as well as the power of holiday spirit, both concepts that viewers can relate to. The eeriness from the characters only serve to diversify the story and leave a memorable impression.