Ah, it’s that wonderful time of the year again. There’ll be parties for throwing, and heads will be rolling and there are white things in the air. Wait, what’s this?
There’s no denying that Halloween is a great time to start watching all of the quirky, spooky classics from beloved director Tim Burton. One of the absolute best is “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Except that despite the misleading name, Tim Burton wasn’t even the director of this cult classic. Sure, he was the producer and the story was his idea (originally a poem inspired by the clash of Christmas and Halloween decorations being sold at the same time) but at the time that Nightmare was made, he was busy making Batman Returns and Disney (from which he’d been fired a few years earlier) still owned the rights to the story. His solution? Pass it off to his good friend Henry Selik, known for such films as Coraline and James and the Giant Peach.
So should the movie be known as Henry Selik’s? After all, without Selik’s design change, Jack would have worn basic black rather than his iconic pinstripes. Although being quoted as saying that Burton was not involved in the grunt work of the project, only being present for about 10 days of the 3 year filming process, Selik himself admits he was basically hired as a stand in to recreate Burton’s signature style.
Who then can we thank for the Pumpkin King? Well, the king himself of course! Jack’s singing voice: Danny Elfman. In addition to composing the score, writing the songs, and voicing the main character (singing only, not speaking), Elfman is also the voice of Barrel and the clown with the tear-away face. He even makes an appearance in the Halloween Town band as the redheaded corpse inside of the upright base (pictured above). There is no denying that even the with the fantastic story and stunning visuals, this movie would be nothing without the music. Burton was the brains, and Selik was the brawn, but Danny Elfman is the heart and soul of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Everyone knows Tim Burton loves to create movies with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, but true Burton fans know that an even more essential element to his best movies is a score by Elfman. Elfman has also lent his musical brilliance to movies from Men in Black to Silver Linings Playbook and television shows as diverse as The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives. Before turning to composing, he was the front man and singer for the 80s ska/pop/rock band Oingo Boingo, known for hits “Dead Man’s Party” and “Weird Science,” as well as their popular Halloween concerts. No wonder he was perfect for Nightmare!
So this holiday season, as you snuggle up to watch a movie on a dark, cold night under full moonlight, remember whose masterpiece this truly is.