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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (Blu-ray Disc)

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Collector's Edition - 1993 (2008) - Disney (Buena Vista)

Dolby TrueHD

First off, I am well aware that Professor Bill Hunt reviewed this title himself over two months ago. If all you're interested in is how the Blu-ray looks, sounds and behaves, I encourage you to go read his remarks instead. He is a learned scholar and I agree with him entirely. But what better way to close out Hell Plaza Oktoberfest II than with arguably the ultimate Halloween movie? Besides, I covered John Carpenter's Halloween last year.

Halloween is obviously an important holiday to me. I wouldn't devote an entire month to the subject if it weren't, now would I? But as much as I love Halloween, Christmas has always been a close second. I realize some people who think October 31 is the best date on the calendar absolutely loathe December 25. Likewise, there are plenty of folks who live for Christmas but wish Halloween would just go away. But I'd like to think they're outnumbered by people like me who think both holidays are pretty fantastic in their own ways. I know plenty of them personally and they're some of the finest people I've ever met. All things considered, it's a very grand thing to be a card-carrying member of the Halloweenmas Appreciation Society.

Tim Burton is one of us and The Nightmare Before Christmas is just about as perfect a movie as he's ever devised. Odds are you already know this movie and you either like it or you don't. If you don't, nothing I can say will persuade you otherwise. For the rest of us, it's a pitch-perfect blend of the macabre and the merry. It's a dark, twisted but remarkably cheerful and upbeat movie. It hearkens back to beloved childhood favorites like Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Mad Monster Party? but asserts its own personality and style within minutes.

Burton is an unusual filmmaker for a lot of reasons. But if you subscribe to the auteur theory, he's even more of an oddity. Almost all of his movies bear his unique stamp. But perhaps more than most filmmakers, his best movies are done in close collaboration with others. Nowhere is that more apparent than in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Burton deserves his possessive pre-title credit but the movie would be unimaginable without the contributions of Danny Elfman and director Henry Selick. Elfman's score is as much a part of this movie as its design and animation and it ranks among his best work, if not his all-time best. As for Selick, Burton at this stage in his career would likely not have been capable of directing a feature-length stop-motion film. He had too many irons in the fire and stop-motion is a medium that requires absolute concentration. Fortunately, Selick understood Burton's vision completely and did a phenomenal job interpreting it to film. The project needed someone who appreciated not just the design but also the story and the characters. Selick and his team gave this movie heart and soul beyond what a work-for-hire director would have given.

Like I said earlier, Bill's review of the Blu-ray disc is spot-on, so I won't add much. Suffice it to say that I've seen Nightmare countless times since its theatrical release. Watching it again on Blu-ray, I was as excited as I was the first time. It's a magical, transporting experience and one of the best examples of the format I've seen so far. The copious extras are all worth your time. Like Bill, I'm disappointed that the original audio commentary by Selick and director of photography Pete Kozachik has been dropped but the new track with Burton, Elfman and Selick is an excellent consolation prize.

As far as I'm concerned, The Nightmare Before Christmas should be traditional viewing every Halloween night. Nothing else captures the magic of both Halloween and Christmas. For those of us who believe the holiday season officially begins in October and not November, it wonderfully sums up our joy at Halloween and helps build our excitement for the holidays still to come.

Happy Halloween, everyone... and may I be the first to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Film Rating: A
Video (1-20): 18.5
Audio (1-20): 18
Extras: A-

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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