Talk about the perfect stop-motion classic for both Halloween and Christmas .
Do you recall the ghastly tales your parents told you at the bedside? Or that special children’s book in the library that you thought fondly of? That’s exactly what this movie feels like — a nostalgic, childlike lore that never expired into your adulthood.
But to fully appreciate it, let’s exhume its roots first.
Seldom do fans read the original Tim Burton poem that inspired this motion picture, and there’s existing audio of the late Christopher Lee’s reading. It’s easy to chalk down the movie’s foundation to the branded name of Tim Burton—the movie is marketed as “Tim Burton’s” creation. But let’s not overlook that this was the directorial debut of animator Henry Selick, who had been regulated to freelance jobs before, and the scripting debut of Caroline Thompson that made it possible. Burton may have planted its conception seeds, but it was Selick’s own hands that did the shaping and nourishing. Each minute of the film’s running time required about a week of shooting.
The plot is classically whimsical: Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, gets in over his thick skull-head trying to claim Christmas. But he’s right that “Christmas should belong to anyone —he and Halloweentown included. He doesn’t intend to provoke a holiday feud, but to share something new with his Halloween cohorts. It’s clear by his “what have I done?” repentance song number that even in his remorse, he still relishes the taste of Christmas. This film is a love letter to both holidays—even if poor Santa receives much of the torment.
With catchy Danny Elfman songs, powerhouse voice-acting and richly Burton-y landscapes, the movie’s visuals dance on a 2-D screen. I am always tempted to reach out and feel the environment’s elaborate texture. And this is all without 3-D glasses.
You might outgrow trick-or-treating and candy canes, but you’re never too old for this ageless classic.
Time could never decompose it to obscurity.