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"Oh somewhere deep inside of these bones, an emptiness began to grow!" -Jack Skellington
on June 6, 2015
Most people who follow Walt Disney Studios' films know about the movie "The Nightmare Before Christmas". A stop motion masterpiece directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton (unavailable as he was filming Batman Returns), this fable is the third part of a trilogy Tim Burton did I personally call "The Christmas Trilogy". One that started with Edward Scissorhands, continued with Batman Returns, and finished with this story. That of Jack Skellington who, tired of the same relentless life as Pumpkin King in the world of Halloween, wishes of something new and inadvertently stumbles unto the world of Christmas. Uncovering a culture he wishes to share his own take to all the children in the real world. A good intention that brings forth more trouble than what he intended.
Let's make it straight, this book is not a direct adaptation of the movie. Instead, this is the original poem Tim Burton had written and proposed to the Studios when he worked as a Disney Animator in the late seventies and early eighties. A poem with his original illustrations accompanying his stanzas. Artwork that is instantly recognizable with its German expressionism and its faerie colors, and character designs. Regarding that last aspect, it is interesting to see that although the characters of Oogie Boogie and Sally are absent, characters with their eventual designs do appear in the background at a certain page. As to whether or not Tim Burton had done those paintings in the seventies before he even got to produce this movie in the nineties, it would be wonderful if he had done that art in the seventies as that specific illustration would foreshadow Sally and Boogie's eventual presences in this story.
Among my favorite artworks, I particularly adore the two-paged painting that presents Jack falling down into Christmas town, and also the last one as Halloween land is.... no, I won't reveal that spoiler. Would ruin the story's punch.
Personally, I know a video version reading of that story also exists on certain DVD releases. Narrated by Christopher Lee, his voice has the perfect tone acting skills to give the story the emotional reading it deserves. Not only that, it also ties in with what Burton did with Vincent Price for his first short film, "Vincent". A masterpiece that was the best love letter a fan could give to his favorite actor, this special reading is another tribute to another actor Burton respected.
In sum, the "Nightmare Before Christmas" book is the perfect classic for Christmas and Halloween time. The universe for which Tim Burton shall always be fondly remembered of.