Is “The Nightmare Before Christmas” A Halloween Or Christmas Film?


Pierce Garramone, Staff Writer

The Nightmare Before Christmas, a classic, critically acclaimed holiday movie turned 25 years old yesterday. The movie centers around Jack Skellington, the “pumpkin king” and representative of the fictional land Halloween Town. Unlike in the real world, Halloween is an everlasting tradition and can be considered everyday life in Halloween Town.

Despite being the mascot of Halloween, however, Jack grows very tired of celebrating the same tradition every day and winds up discovering Christmas Town, the polar opposite of his land. The entirety of the movie revolves around the differences between Halloween and Christmas and what they mean to our protagonist. Because of this plot, the movie has raised many questions and debates, one of which being: “Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or a Christmas movie?”

Anyone who knows how to use a search bar can easily find the answer to this question. There are many things that hint the movie is a Halloween-designed film. The movie released on this day, October 13th, 1993, during the month of Halloween, and the director of the movie himself stated it was a Halloween film. However, this does not particularly mean the movie is a Halloween Film. The spirit of Christmas is very much present in the movie, almost as much as Halloween.

Let’s start with the characters. The vast majority of characters in the film are residents of Halloween Town, some notable ones being the protagonist Jack, the ragdoll love interest Sally, and the film’s main antagonist Oogie Boogie. While most may fall under the Halloween category, there are still characters that represent Christmas spirit. The movie does not focus entirely on our spooky characters. It does frequently bring these Christmas characters into play and makes them important to the plot and Jack’s understanding of Christmas. So while you may argue that the Halloween themed characters are more prominent to the movie’s plot, you cannot deny the other large roles like Santa Claus, the elves, and the citizens of Christmas Town.

Santa Claus, the mascot of Christmas as a whole, has a big part in the film. When Jack discovers Christmas, Santa Claus is one of the first things he learns about the holiday. Being curious and eager to explore the concept of Christmas time, Jack orders three of Oogie Boogie’s henchmen to peacefully kidnap “Sandy Claws” so he may impersonate him and get a better look at Christmas.

Their plan to capture “Sandy Claws” ends up working and he is brought to Jack’s presence. Jack, oblivious to the trick or treaters’ real plans with Santa, simply takes his hat and sets off to imitate him, delivering presents to children in Christmas Town. Meanwhile, as Jack is having his fun, the henchmen deliver Santa Claus to Oogie Boogie, who proposes a plan to kill Santa Claus. When Jack ends up learning about the situation, he defeats Oogie Boogie and ends up apologizing to Santa Claus, sending him on his way.

Santa’s existence causes Jack to lose himself throughout the movie and believes he is someone he is not. His visit to Christmas Town fascinates him, however at the same time it causes him to slowly drift far from his friends and role in Halloween. Santa’s kidnapping and almost death at the hands of Oogie Boogie gives Jack a shot at redemption. While most people would believe the movie is a Halloween movie due to the fact that it features much more Halloween themed content, it can really be viewed to celebrate either holiday. It has a good amount of Halloween and Christmas spirit balanced throughout the movie.

The film is a very unique one, and it can be perceived in many ways. The art style of stop-motion by Tim Burton gives the film a darker feel, yet the characters, story, and overall content of the film helps bring some cheer. So whenever you wish to watch this film is up to you. Either way, it is just as good for your Halloween as it is for your Christmas.