If you’re anything like me, you have a collection of Christmas movies that you watch every year. I started going through my list as soon as December hit, and one of the first movies I watched was Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The story of Jack Skellington started out as a poem that Burton wrote while he was still working at Disney. Years later when production finally began, he used that poem, some drawings, storyboards, and an outline he had created ten years earlier to piece together a script for The Nightmare Before Christmas.
In the book Burton on Burton, he says that he and Danny Elfman used the rough storyline to develop most of the film’s music before the screenplay was even written. It seems like a chaotic way of doing things, to have everything from the animation to the script happening all at once, but obviously it turned out ok.
Danny Elfman’s music is as much a star of this movie as the incredible stop-motion animation and Burton’s memorable characters. My favourite songs are “This is Halloween” and, the one that’s currently playing over and over again in my head, “What’s This?”. In fact while writing this post I discovered that Fall Out Boy did a version of “What’s This?” for the 2006 soundtrack reissue. While I’m all for artistic interpretation, I am not a fan of their version. If you want to hear the real song, watch The Nightmare Before Christmas or get the Danny Elfman version on iTunes.