I watched ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ for the first time on its 30th anniversary

I feel a little spark of giddiness at the end of every September, when I get to flip the calendar page to the month of October. Fall is my favorite season, and October, November, and December are my favorite months. I love the holiday season, and I’m always searching for new and fun ways to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 

With my love for all things festive (plus all things Disney), you might find it a little surprising that I’ve never watched Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, I was familiar with the characters, and I couldn’t stop humming “This is Halloween” after I heard it during a Halloween-themed Disney World parade. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas was recently re-released in theaters for its 30th anniversary, and my husband (who is a self-proclaimed lover of “weird and trippy stories”), encouraged me to finally go see it. 

I can safely say this movie would have definitely scared me out of my mind as a child, so it’s probably better I waited until I was an adult to see it. (Interesting bit of trivia per Wikipedia: Disney originally released this movie under the banner of Touchstone Pictures, fearing it would be “too dark and scary” for kids). 

It’s definitely creepy, but in its own weird and wonderful way, it’s also endearing? The music is fantastic, and the stop motion animation is a work of art. The main character, Jack Skellington, is the skeletal Pumpkin King, ruler of Halloweentown and master of all things spooky.

However, Jack is growing a little weary of the constant grim and dark Halloween vibe, and when he accidentally stumbles through a magical door into Christmas Town, he decides to bring some Christmas magic back to his own realm.

It was fun watching Jack discover snow, Christmas trees, holiday lights, and all the other little details that make Christmas so much fun. And even though his attempts to take over Christmas don’t exactly work out like he hopes, I love the film’s reminder that holidays are for everyone. 

Two more things I loved: the short runtime, and the story’s inventiveness. This movie clocks in at 1 hour and 15 minutes, and it uses that time to tell a complete story without any padding. It was also great to see a truly inventive concept (only Tim Burton would think to tell a dark fairytale combining Halloween and Christmas in this particular way).

As Disney struggles a bit in its movie-making this year, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a good reminder that yes, the studio has taken chances over the years, and isn’t always after an easy cash-grab. 

Hopefully its re-release (which I acknowledge is probably a chance to make some extra dough in what hasn’t been a banner year for the film company) will also provide a time for some reflection and a spark of inspiration about how much can be accomplished through the magic of animation.

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