Ah, autumn. It is that time of year when my favorite entertainment debate is the most talked about in the movie world. Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie?
Fans of Tim Burton's 1993 stop-motion masterpiece have been plagued by the discussion of yuletide versus ghoul-tide for 28 years. On the other hand, the movie is dominated by ghosts, monsters, and things that go up in the night and open in theaters during a weekend in October, and the opening number is widely heralded as an All Hallow's Eve anthem. The Nightmare Before Christmas takes place mostly during Christmas. The story ends on Christmas Day after the rising action, the climax and the story being told. Santa Claus is a main character in a lot of Christmas movies.
Even if it is completely devoid of cranberry sauce, the narrative is still suited to what this holiday is supposed to be about.
It is a difficult call. You don't have to make it. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Thanksgiving movie. I am blowing your mind right now.
bear with me. It is a mix of Halloween and Christmas so you should watch it during the holiday in between them. That is a perfectly reasonable argument worth taking into account. Jack Skellington's journey from Pumpkin King to disgraced Santa imposter really fits into Thanksgiving's themes of gratefulness and family. Even if it is completely devoid of cranberry sauce, the narrative is still suited to what this holiday is supposed to be about.
The citizens of Halloween Town are eternally thankful for Jack. Credit: Moviestore
Jack shirks his duties in Halloween Town to take over Christmas from Saint Nick and the elves in the film. He thinks the change in holidays will bring a new purpose to his life. Jack has the support of his friends, spooky admirers, and his hesitant love interest Sally. Father Christmas was kidnapped and held captive while he flew around the world delivering gifts. Jack accepts that he belongs back in Halloween Town and helps Santa set Christmas right after a series of twists and turns.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is not about regrets. Jack is happy that he had the experience of taking another holiday and would do it again. The moral becomes a lesson in gratefulness with two equally compelling arguments.
Jack can explore something new. Either way, it's about accepting how that goes. Credit: Moviestore
Jack learns to appreciate what he has in his community. He was welcomed back to Halloween Town with open arms and a celebration to honor his escape from Oogie Boogie. Jack finally sees what he has been waiting for: a kind rag doll who loves him more than anything, and a cute ghost dog who wants him home.
Jack learns to value the ups and downs of his life. Jack approaches his apparent failure with a sense of humor, rather than being racked with the sadness that tortured him earlier in the movie. There is a chance that the turkey door is still there. It has been put in a new light, replacing the fear of being lost with the excitement of choosing a path.
This is not a recommendation to serve bugs.
If you watch the movie with Thanksgiving in mind, you will see more of the reasoning behind my conclusion. Sally and Dr. Finkelstein teach us how to set healthy boundaries. Under poor leadership, the Mayor embodies a small community trying to overcome a challenge. Lock, Shock, and Barrel, the mischievous trick-or-treaters, even touch on preparing a complex meal for a critical dinner guest! This isn't a recommendation to serve bugs with your turkey dinner.
The themes of thankfulness are what makes me confident that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Thanksgiving movie. They are what this animated classic is about. Jack saved Christmas by not wearing the set dressing. All the jack-o-lanterns and holly in the world can not overcome the experience of real gratitude.
The last Thursday in November is when I watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. I cue it up for Halloween and Christmas as well. I'll watch it whenever and wherever. Jack was teaching us how to appreciate what we have and where we are.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is on Disney+.