What Was “The Nightmare Before Christmas” About?


Teela Robertson

Boys and girls of every age were thrilled with The Nightmare Before Christmas, a 1993 movie directed by Henry Selick using a Tim Burton written script. Almost everyone who watched the movie fell in love with the characters, the music, and the plot of the story. To this day people love watching the classic movie during both Halloween and Christmas.
The 1993 film focused on Jack and his journey of self-identity. Jack Skellington is the main character and Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, a place where monsters, creatures, and witches of all sorts reside and plan to have the best Halloween every year. It is described very well in the opening song “This Is Halloween” as to what the characters and their jobs are. At the end of the song, Jack comes in with a scary pumpkin on his head and lights himself on fire to give off a scary effect. When he emerges from the water that he dived in to get rid of the fire, he comes out as Jack Skellington the role model of Halloween Town. As much as everyone cheers him on for being the pumpkin king, Jack keeps doubting who he is and if he is truly happy.
As Jack sleeps through the forest, he comes across a place he has never been before. It is a clearing of trees surrounded in a circle with different designs of doors on the trees. Doors to represent each holiday. Jack becomes memorized with the Christmas tree door and goes to open it. When he peers in he falls into the tree and some snow. Jack is amazed by everything he sees in the place he learns is Christmas Town. He then sings a song about how he loves everything about Christmas Town: the colorful lights, the food, the presents, and the idea of no monsters underneath children’s beds as they sleep and wait for Christmas presents the next day.
While Jack is out having fun in Christmas Town, the residents of Halloween Town are frantically looking for him. They appear to have searched everywhere in Halloween Town: the sarcophagi, all the mausoleums, and the pumpkin patch. Just as morning comes they hear Zero, Jack’s ghost dog, barking. The citizens perk up and cheer as they see that Jack is back. Jack then organizes a town meeting, a meeting that Sally, a ragdoll who is in love with Jack, decides to go to. In order to escape, she poisons her creator with sleeping draught so she can quietly leave. At the town meeting Jack tries to explain the joys of Christmas Town but the citizens take it in a different way than what Jack intended so he decides to state things in a way that the citizens would enjoy.
With the citizens on board, Jack gets some tools from Dr. Finkelstein, who is also the creator of Sally, and then heads home to try and figure out Christmas. He tries to solve the problem of Christmas and what it means and why they have the things they have. Once he gets his head wrapped around what to do, he announces to the townspeople that “This year, Christmas shall be ours!”. Jack then starts assigning every townsperson a job to do to contribute to Christmas. This is where Lock, Shock, and Barrel make an appearance. They are Oogie Boogie’s children and have quite a reputation. They are assigned the important task of “kidnapping Mr. Sandy Claws”. Sandy Claws is what they all call Santa Claus. They were told to not inform Oogie Boogie of their task but they do so anyway.
Sally comes up to Jack and tries to tell him about her horrible vision about this Christmas thing but he won’t listen to reason. Oogie’s boys then come up to Jack and say they caught Sandy Claws. However when they open the bag out pops the Easter Bunny. They are then tasked to return the bunny and kidnap the real Sandy Claws. After they leave we see the citizens of Halloween Town making toys and decorations for Christmas. The only thing is that their decorations and toys are warped, having lots of Halloween aspects to them. The scene switches to Christmas Town and shows “Sandy Claws” checking his list. When he answers the door, after the bell is rung, he is surprised to see three trick or treaters at his door, who jump him and put him in a sack. It cuts back to Halloween town where Sally is trying to reason with Jack once more. The three kids then come up to Jack to tell him they caught the real Sandy Claws this time. They open the sack and there is a confused Santa Claus, wondering what is going on. When Jack tells Santa his plans, Santa Claus gets flustered and tries to object but to no avail. Jack takes his hat and then orders the children to take him someplace comfortable. The three kids decide to give him to Oogie Boogie, whom they deem has a very comfortable place. Sandy Claws then meets Oogie Boogie, who goes into song about who he is and what Sandy Caws has in store for him.
Jack is about to set off to deliver the things they’ve made for Christmas. Sally, in a last-ditch effort to stop Jack, puts fog juice in the fountain creating a very thick fog. Everyone becomes sad because Jack and the skeleton reindeer can’t fly in this weather because they won’t be able to see. Zero then comes in with his shiny nose and leads the sleigh, “saving” the day. Jack goes on to deliver presents to the children of “normal town” and decorations to houses to make them better. However, the decorations and toys start attacking the people and causing havoc on the town, making everyone scared and confused as to what happened to Santa Claus. The people of Halloween Town are watching the news that is telling all of this and start to cheer, but they fail to realize the part where the military is getting ready to take Jack down. The one person that does hear this is Sally, who decides to go and save Santa Claus to make things right and to help Jack.
Sally goes to Oogie Boogie’s lair and tears herself apart to help Santa Claus. She uses her leg to distract Oogie as her hands go to untie Santa. However, Oogie realizes that it is just a leg and turns around and sucks in Santa Claus and Sally. The scene then cuts back to Jack who has realized that the military is trying to hit them and not celebrate them. The sleigh gets hit and Jack falls out of the sky. The townspeople of Halloween Town witnessed this on the news and began to despair and cry out for their lost Pumpkin King. The Mayor gets in his vehicle and begins announcing that their beloved Jack has fallen and is no more.
It cuts back to the normal town where Jack is alive but saddened by what has happened. He sings a song asking himself what has he done and how he never meant for it to be this bad. In the song he realizes he is the Pumpkin King and is made for Halloween. It is at this time that he realizes that they still have Sandy Claws kidnapped and goes to save him. The Mayor makes his way around to where Oogie, Sally, and Sandy Claws are at and delivers the news that Jack is dead. This causes Sally to frown and for Oogie to laugh, thinking no one will save the two he has captured. As he dumps them into the lava Jack appears, very much alive, and takes Sally and Santa Claus to a safer place. He then turns to face Oogie Boogie and defeats him, unthreading Oogie to reveal a bunch of bugs. Jack apologizes to Santa Claus and states he hopes Christmas can be saved. Santa ensures it can be and goes on to save Christmas. The Mayor and Boogie’s boys then find Jack and Sally and bring them back into town. Where people are rejoicing that Jack is safe. Santa comes by and brings snow to Halloween Town. The snow amazes the people of Halloween Town and questions what it is, but in the end they play with it. Jack then goes to find Sally and confesses his love for her and she does the same. They embrace and the movie ends with Zero zooming into the night sky.
This movie is a wonderful movie for people of all ages, at any point in time. It has very interesting characters and a storyline that many people would love. If you ever need a movie to watch, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a wonderful option.