Many people have debated the classification of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as either a Halloween or Christmas movie. This beloved cult classic, created by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, is a unique stop-motion animated film that was released by Touchstone Pictures in 1993. Its blend of themes has confused audiences for years. However, despite the incorporation of both holidays into the story, the movie's overall themes and structure suggest that it leans more toward being a Halloween movie.

To begin, the setting of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is Halloween Town, a land where every day is dedicated to celebrating Halloween. The town is inhabited by ghastly beings such as goblins, witches, and monsters, all led by the film's protagonist, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. The film opens with the culmination of another successful Halloween, but the seemingly unquenchable desire for something new and different seeds the adventure to come. The unmistakably spooky aesthetic, coupled with the delight in the grotesque and macabre, heavily underscores the Halloween-centricity of the narrative.

The film's narrative arc provides further evidence for its categorization as a Halloween movie. The story hinges on Jack's disenchantment with Halloween and his subsequent fascination with Christmas. But it is through the lens of Halloween - its traditions, its characters, and its aesthetics - that Christmas is perceived and interpreted. Essentially, it's the 'Halloweenization' of Christmas, not the other way around. Even when Jack takes on the persona of Santa Claus, he is very much a Halloween character playing a Christmas role. The Christmas elements are given a Halloween makeover - from the skeletal reindeer to the frightful gifts delivered to children. This indicates that Halloween is the primary filter through which the audience is meant to experience the film.

Moreover, from a thematic perspective, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" offers a narrative that resonates deeply with the ethos of Halloween. The film explores the fascination with the unknown, the strange, and the other - themes that are more associated with Halloween than Christmas. Jack Skellington's journey, while peppered with the bright lights and joviality of Christmas, is steeped in a desire for exploration of the mysterious and a divergence from the familiar, mirroring the spirit of Halloween.

Danny Elfman's gothic and haunting score creates the perfect atmosphere for Halloween. The song "This is Halloween" sets the tone with its eerie and spooky overtones, while even the cheerier numbers like "What's This?" - which is about Jack discovering Christmas - have an unsettling undertone that harkens back to the movie's Halloween origins. Overall, Elfman's musical talent brings the essence of Halloween to life in this classic film.

Lastly, even though the film culminates in Jack realizing the importance of preserving the sanctity of each holiday in its own right, the film ends with Jack embracing his role as the Pumpkin King, signifying a return to Halloween. This narrative loop back to Halloween provides additional evidence for the film being primarily a Halloween movie.

To sum up, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" incorporates elements from both Halloween and Christmas, but its setting, narrative structure, themes, and music strongly suggest that it is a Halloween movie. Its ability to straddle both holidays is why it remains a popular choice to watch from October until December. Regardless of how you classify it, the film is a lasting tribute to the unique appeal of both holidays and continues to captivate viewers with its skillful combination of whimsy and darkness.
August 01, 2023 — Muhammad Nurul Afsar