There has to be something wrong with anyone who doesn’t have at least a small soft spot in their hearts for Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas. The film will assuredly earn its rightful place as a classic as more years roll by. The film just works on so many levels. Danny Elfman deserves as much credit as
The story is very simple and not that terribly original. Jack Skellington (Elfman/Sarandon) is The Pumpkin King. He pretty much rules over Halloweentown. It is here among ghouls goblins and creatures of all shapes and sizes that Halloween comes from. In fact, every holiday has a town entered through an appropriately shaped doorway in a tree. Jack is the best at providing the scares, and he’s a sensation among his fellow Halloweentown citizens. He’s beginning to tire of the same old routine, however, and looks for something different. On a long walk in the woods Jack discovers the doorway to Christmastown. Here he is inundated by sights and sounds the like of which he’s never experienced before. On his return home he tries to sell his friends on the concept of Christmas, which they do embrace but with a decidedly morbid slant. Jack’s dreams of being “Sandy Claws” and celebrating Christmas turn disastrous. Santa’s kidnapped and tortured by the evil Oogie Boogie (Page), perhaps an homage to Elfman’s early band. Unlike most of the harmlessly scary denizens of Halloweentown, Oogie Boogie is real nasty. Ask him, he’ll tell you. Meanwhile Dr. Finkelstein’s man made bride, Sally (O’Hara) has a crush on Jack and tries to warn him from his holly jolly folly. Jack soon discovers that he’s really happy with who he is, The Pumpkin King, after all.
At its heart this really is a holiday film. Using themes from both Christmas and Halloween, it provides a very memorable and clever little treat. The horror is never really that serious, and it’s all so tongue in cheek that it’s safe for the entire family. The characters will delight and not terrify the young ones, who likely see through the ugly exterior and appreciate them more for what they truly are. The music is simple and your kids will quickly be repeating them, if they are not already. Be careful or you might find yourself humming away a little yourself. Most importantly, the whole thing is rather infectious.
A Nightmare Before Christmas is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. I’m quite happy with this transfer. As I’ve already mentioned, I was able to pick out details that I missed in earlier editions. I don’t know if the transfer is new as I’ve missed the last DVD release. The bit rate stays at a solid 5-6 mbps and provides a nearly flawless print. The whole thing is rather dark, so I wouldn’t call this very colorful, but you will notice some nice contrast and solid black levels.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track offers some nice creepy moments. Naturally the music takes center stage. It’s a rather sweet presentation of the music that will blow away your CD. Some ambient sounds offer some nice depth to the whole thing. Dialog and songs are right there, and you won’t have any trouble hearing anything properly.
There is a commentary track with Tim Burton, Danny Elfman and director Henry Selick. Unfortunately they were not together, but there’s some nice anecdotal stuff there.
Disc 1 contains the film and commentary. Under Backstage Disney you get the following features:
What’s This? Jack’s
Tim Burton’s Original Poem Narrated By Christopher Lee: It’s Hammer’s own Dracula providing the voice to
The Making Of Tim
Disc 2 Contains the following:
Deleted Scenes: You get two kinds of deleted scenes. You pick between deleted storyboards and deleted animation. It all provides a nice little gem for all of you fans out there.
The Worlds Of A Nightmare Before Christmas: Again there are subsets to this feature. This time there are three: Halloweentown, Christmastown, and The Real World. There are more subsections which provide conceptual art and character design for various elements of the film’s universe.
Vincent: You’ve likely seen this
Frankenweenie: Dr. Frankenstein is trying to bring his pet dog back from the dead.
There is a third disc containing a digital copy of the film for your portable video device.
Obviously I went into watching this DVD with a preexisting love for the film. There’s an innocence and enchantment here that is extremely rare in films of any genre or style.