The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Best Christmas Movie Ever Created


Image from Christin Noelle.

Sofia Bierhorst, Staff Writer

     I’ve always been drawn to darker media, and as much as I dislike Tim Burton for being a racist jerk, he does make very good movies. The first one I believe I ever saw was The Nightmare Before Christmas. Although it’s mostly credited to Tim Burton, Henry Selick is the director, and the movie should be more accredited to him. This movie combines the two best holidays so perfectly, with a very creative concept and designs. Although this is a Halloween movie, as stated by Henry Selick, it’s still fitting for December, and so I’m going to explain why The Nightmare Before Christmas is the best Christmas movie. 

     Before getting into the actual plot of the movie, the designs, music, and concept are all amazing. It’s a musical, which already earns it points from me. Tim Burton has such a unique style, which blends perfectly with stop motion. A prime example of the amazing design and characters is found in the mayor. The two leads have amazing designs that fit their characters very well. Jack Skellington is creepy like the rest, with a long and lanky design akin to the likes of Slenderman, and his face is so simple he can make scary expressions as well as simple expressions very appealing to children. You can see how he’s the king of scaring, while he can also be wholesome looking enough for the audience to be able to easily empathize with him. Sally is mismatched, with stitched skin and stitched dress that looks like a bunch of random patterns were thrown together. This makes sense because of her being made by Dr. Finkelstein, and also suits her personality. She’s odd, even among the peculiar residents of Halloween Town. She’s more colorful and a lot lighter than most other residents, who tend to have limited palettes of black and desaturated colors. She’s also more regular looking than the other townspeople, so she stands out even more. She struggles throughout the whole movie with fitting in and being able to relate to the other members of the town, most likely due to a combination of insecurity and being very sheltered by the Doctor. 

     Onto the actual movie, the movie opens with the absolute banger that is “This is Halloween.” This song is iconic, and a perfect start to the movie. It perfectly introduces the audience to Halloween Town and especially Jack, the protagonist. He’s shown as the Pumpkin King, the scariest man in town. The residents look up to him and practically worship him. He has more political power in this town than the mayor, as everyone listens to whatever he says. We’re also briefly introduced to Sally, the female lead of the movie, but more on her later. After the celebration, Jack is shown to be bored with his work. Jack is a burnt-out artist who can’t seem to find joy in what he used to love. He breaks out into song, with Sally watching him. Sally goes home to her creator, Dr. Finkelstein. He tries to keep her home despite her being a fully grown woman. She tries desperately to escape and drugs him frequently so she can go outside. Back with Jack, he and his dog, Zero, have discovered a series of doors carved into trees, representing different holidays. He goes into the door shaped like a Christmas tree.

     He then enters Christmas Town, a world based solely on Christmas, and goes through culture shock. He sings “What’s This?”, a musical number about Jack discovering the wonders of Christmas. He’s completely inspired and enthralled by this strange world, wanting to learn and create his own Christmas. While the town searches for Jack, believing him to be missing, Sally once again drugs Dr. Finkelstein so she can escape. Jack returns to a depressed Halloween Town with lots of stolen goods from Christmas Town. Jack shows off all he stole with a musical number, and none of the townspeople quite grasp what Christmas is all about. Jack eventually gives in and tells them that Santa Claus (or as he refers to him, “Sandy Claws”) is, in fact, terrifying. Jack sets out to learn more about Christmas. Meanwhile, back at home and locked in her room, Sally makes a basket for Jack. She runs away for good, jumping out of her window and stitching herself back together. Sally is such a girl boss, she drugs her abuser multiple times before finally having enough and literally jumping out of a window so she can give a gift to her crush. Jack appreciates the gift, and Sally runs away before he can thank her. She gets a vision that implies that Jack’s plan will fail. The townspeople are worried about Jack, and he’s just confused about Christmas, and even though he cannot grasp it, he’s obsessed, and simply cannot walk away from it. He decides to quite literally steal Christmas and actually improve upon it. 

     Jack sets out three children to kidnap “Sandy Claws.” and so we get the absolute banger that is “Kidnap The Sandy Claws.” Lock, Shock, And Barrel, the kids sent to kidnap Santa, and also servants to Oogie Boogie, are all very fun characters and are prime examples of how perfect yet simple the designs in this movie are. They’re recognizable and unique while also being very simple. Anyways, Sally is very worried about Jack, as she loves him and doesn’t want him to crash and burn like in her vision. He doesn’t get it, and is honestly kind of stupid. He means well, but he’s a complete idiot. The children come back with the Easter Bunny, which makes Jack angry, sending them back out to find Santa. The town sets out to make Christmas, with yet another banger song to go along with it. They make terrifying gifts for the children because none of them really understand what Christmas is about. The kids succeed in kidnapping Santa, and hand him over to Oogie Boogie after showing Jack they found him.

     Oogie Boogie is a gambling, jazzy boogeyman. Now, as iconic and silly as this guy is, he is a bit of a racial stereotype. He’s even voiced by a black man. Tim Burton also knew that the term “boogie” is quite literally a racial slur at the time of creating the character. At one point, the intended ending was for Dr. Finkelstein to have been secretly controlling Oogie Boogie, and Tim Burton was so angry Selick wanted to do this that he punched a hole in the wall. Oogie Boogie being made of bugs does show how weak and pathetic evil, manipulative people really are, but black people have also been associated with dirty things like bugs for a long, long time to put them down. Overall, Oogie Boogie is a very problematic character, even if I adore the movie and enjoy the character. 

     Now, back to the plot, Jack sets off to deliver presents. Sally creates a fog to prevent him from taking off, but he discovers that Zero’s nose could light the way, and so Zero is basically Rudolph and leads his skeleton reindeer. Sally separates from the crowd and drops the absolute BANGER that is “Sally’s Song.” This song is literally so good I have listened to it countless times. Meanwhile, Jack begins giving out presents that utterly horrify and absolutely terrorize the children. Jack is quite literally SHOT DOWN BY THE MILITARY. This movie is so insane and I love it so much. In Halloween Town, Sally shows up to save Santa from Oogie Boogie by distracting him with her leg. Sally ends up tied down with Santa. The town mourns Jack’s apparent death while the real world mourns the disappearance of the real Santa. Christmas is CANCELED by the police which is hilarious. I love how everyone believes in Santa and Christmas cannot go on without him despite parents getting gifts for their children anyways and Christmas really being more about family and such, not presents. 

     Jack realizes what he did and how he ruined Christmas. He’s at his lowest point, feeling ashamed and like things can’t get any better. In a matter of seconds, he becomes angry with people misunderstanding him, and then in a few more seconds regains his inspiration for scaring and getting out of his burnout. He excitedly heads back to Halloween Town and saves Santa. He rushes to Oogie Boogie’s and successfully rescues Sally and Santa. Jack and Oogie Boogie have a showdown, with Jack successfully making it past all of Oogie Boogie’s tricks and traps. Oogie is terrified of Jack and repeatedly runs away so he can activate traps. Jack catches hold of one of Oogie’s strings holding him together when he tries to run, tearing him apart at the seams. He falls apart into a bunch of little bugs, the last of which Santa squishes. Jack finally realizes how perfect Sally is for him before being rudely interrupted by the mayor and rescued from Oogie’s lair. All is well, Santa fixes Christmas, Jack is inspired and happy again, and Christmas joy is finally brought to Halloween Town. Only one more loose end needs to be tied in. Sally goes into the graveyard, where Jack follows her. She picks a flower, ending on “he loves me,” before Jack makes it apparent he’s there. He walks up to the top of the hill to her. They sing a duet about belonging together and finally kiss. Jack and Sally are such an iconic couple, and they’re honestly perfect for each other.

     Overall, the movie is amazing. The art, the writing, the concept, and the romance are all so perfect. My favorite character has to be Jack. I love Sally, and she’s amazing, but I just relate to Jack a lot with his burnout and struggle with living up to others’ standards for him. His design is so classic and perfect as well, and he’s just so iconic and great. My favorite design has to go to the mayor, which I have neglected thus far but now I must talk about it. He has such an amazing and unique design, having two faces, one happy and one sad. I love characters with a theme of duality in their design (or personality). The mayor is such a fun character too, and his design is just absolutely phenomenal. This movie is one of my favorites of all time, and it is my firm belief that it’s the best Christmas movie that has been and will ever be created. I love this movie.