CHRISTMAS VS. HALLOWEEN
By JUDE SALAM
Whether or not The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween or Christmas movie has been subject of heated debate since the film’s first release in 1993. There’s no denying that the movie incorporates a multitude of principally Halloween-associated elements throughout the entirety of the film. With the movie featuring cackling witches, ghostly canines, and being primarily set in the chillingly terrifying village of “Halloween Town,” it’s easy for one to simply dismiss The Nightmare Before Christmas as being yet another classic film to watch during those dark October nights.
However, in order to accurately draw a conclusion on such a subject matter, one must look beneath the external spookiness of the film and divulge into the complex depth of the story itself to identify the undeniable true nature of the movie – that at its core, it is a tale surrounding the spirit of Christmas.
First and foremost, there’s the obvious point that the name “Christmas” is mentioned in the title of the movie itself. Although seemingly insignificant, this detail is incredibly important, as its presence hints at the movie’s underlying theme. The beginning part of the title fits appropriately into the theory as well, seeing that it places significant emphasis of the Nightmare being “Before” Christmas, the nightmare symbolizing the struggle before the joyous conclusion – Christmas. The point being made here is that of the essence of the storyline of the movie itself, demonstrating the progression from the terrifying beginning to the calming finale. Therefore, the end of the title parallels to the ending of the film, where, in both instances, it reaches the ultimate moral of the story.
Although, the movie is mainly set in Halloween Town, the heart of the story lies within the snow capped mountains of Christmas Town. It is here where the greatest amount of character development is made, giving the story an additional layer of dimension and depth, which, arguably, is what makes it such a classic film. Furthermore, the introduction of Christmas Town into the plot is a significant point of wonder and excitement that is brought into the film that truly resonates with many audiences. Juxtaposed with the dreary nature of Halloween Town, Christmas Town reintroduces the warm, nostalgic feeling that comes with the merry winter season, fostering the primary source of our emotional attachment to the story
Finally, the film’s development of such an iconically wholesome story doesn’t necessarily agree with other Halloween movies, but is instead harmonious with the heartiness that exists in tales of Christmas. Therefore, with the evidence, it would only make sense to conclude that The Nightmare Before Christmas is, in fact, a classic Christmas movie.
By CADEN CHOW
Although this movie illustrates Jack attempting to recreate the joys of Christmas, this movie is ultimately a Halloween-themed film because of the overall mood as well as Jack’s true home, Halloween town.
First of all, the mood of the film is spooky and spine-tingly, as the opening scenes contain the scary monsters of Halloween Town, singing to the tune “This is Halloween.” The chanting creates an ominous Halloween atmosphere, void of the cheerful carols of Christmas. In addition, the opening scenes also reveal the various monsters of the town including the vampires, ghouls, and King Jack, himself. Another reason is that the light-filled decorations of Christmas are only present in the film for a few minutes as Jack accidentally falls into the portal to Christmas Town. The fact that Jack accidentally falls into the portal shows that the story is intended to be for Halloween. Even if Jack was influenced to recreate Christmas, his preparation maintains the “trick-or-treat” aspects of Halloween, including traps, creepy heads, animal parts, and many more. Jack Skellington’s Christmas fails to be successful, as he is unable to pretend to be something he is not. He learns that his role in society is to be the king of Halloween, not the jolly Santa of Christmas.
This realization leads to the ultimate point of why The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie. Jack’s true home is Halloween Town, not Christmas Town. It is Halloween in that the main character is unable to do anything except provide spooks to the children, showing an inherent nature of his character. He finds security in his Halloween Town as well as the love of his life. Christmas is not the right holiday for Jack, for he was made to be the king of Halloween and as a result, Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie.
In addition, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Henry Selick, directly stated that his movie is a Halloween movie. So, although this movie contains many Christmas elements, its real purpose is to serve as a Halloween movie.
Many Halloween movies are centered around characters internally dueling about two opposing identities, and The Nightmare Before Christmas perfectly fits this archetype. Jack’s second thoughts about the moral inclinations of Halloween challenge his joy of seeing happy children, not children almost scared to death. This movie structure symbolizes the duelity behind a Halloween costume, as the person may look menacing on the outside but really may have a warm heart on the inside. That is the case for Jack Skellington, as he attempts to shed his Halloween persona and replace it with a warmer Christmas one. This play on identities is crucial in making The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween Movie.