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four anecdotes about Tim Burton’s masterpiece

Halloween is getting closer and closer. And to celebrate, let’s return to four anecdotes from a 90s cartoon masterpiece: Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tim Burton did not direct the film

If The Nightmare Before Christmas is inextricably linked to the name Tim Burton, then Edward’s director with Silver Hands and Sleepy Hollow didn’t direct the film. Burton is already busy directing Batman, The Challenge. Having no time to make a stop-motion film, he entrusts this delicate task to another director: Henry Selick, a real specialist in stop-motion animation. After studying animation at Disney alongside Burton, with whom he worked on the animation classics Rox and Rouky (1981) and Taram and the Magic Cauldron (1985), Selick produced stop-motion credits for MTV. The Nightmare Before Christmas is his first feature film. The rest of his career will testify to his perfect mastery of frame animation as he will adapt James and the Big Peach (1996), a masterpiece of children’s literature signed by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sacred, Witches) and Coraline (2009 ), the gothic classic of children’s literature by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods).

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Despite the fact that he delegated production to a third party, Tim Burton stayed very involved in the project, making many trips between the sets of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Batman, the challenge. He co-wrote the script, and as he will tell Mark Salisbury (in the exciting book Tim Burton: Interviews with Mark Salisbury), “Henry would send me the few shots that were wrapped in the week and I would arrange my editing room “Subsequently and twice, Tim Burton managed to make both a live-action film and a stop-motion animation film: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Les Noces Funèbres (2005), Dark Shadows (2012) and Frankenweenie (2012 ).

The origin of the film: a poem!

Before becoming one of the most beloved feature films of the 90s, The Nightmare Before Christmas was a poem Tim Burton wrote while working for Disney. If you’re curious, the Collectors Edition DVD Bonuses feature a reading of the original poem by the great Christopher Lee, who works regularly with Tim Burton. The director of Beetlejuice confided that with this poem he wrote the children’s books by Dr. Seuss (The Grinch, The Cat in the Hat) wanted to pay tribute to him as he did to Vincent, his first animated short film. Produced in stop-motion and in black and white, a tribute to the actor Vincent Price (narrator of the film), the writer Edgar Allan Poe (Le Chat Noir, Le Corbeau) and Dr. Seuss.

Despite the conversion of the three-page poem into a 76-minute animated film, The Nightmare Before Christmas retains the tangible imprint of Dr. Seuss. This is particularly evident in the songwriting of the composer Danny Elfman, which in its original version uses the time signature and rhymes of Dr. Seuss perfectly imitates.

The Burton family

As everyone knows, Tim Burton likes to find former employees with every film. The American director has his favorite actors, from Johnny Depp (Sleepy Hollow, The Funeral Wedding to Helena Bonham Carter (Planet of the Apes, Big Fish), Danny DeVito (Batman, The Challenge, Big Fish), Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Edward aux Mains d’Argent, Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice, Batman), Alan Rickman (Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland), Christopher Lee (Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) or Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Miss Peregrine and the Private Children). In The Nightmare Before Christmas, the regular actors of Burton’s’ 90s theaters seem rather absent, aside from Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice, Frankenweenie) and Paul Reubens (Pee).

Make no mistake, however, the “Burton Family” actually features in The Nightmare Before Christmas. First, the songwriter Danny Elfman, who has worked on all of Tim Burton’s films (except Ed Wood, Sweeney Todd: The Wicked Barber of Fleet Street and Miss Peregrine and the Special Children), wrote numerous songs in the composed film the soundtrack and even paid for it the luxury of synchronizing the character of Jack on the sung parts as well as Gram and the clown who had lost their heads. To turn his poem into a movie, Tim Burton first called Michael McDowell, the Beetlejuice screenwriter. Although they are both friends, the two men do not write a script that fully meets Burton’s ambitions. Then she turns to Caroline Thompson, to whom he had entrusted the writing of another masterpiece. , Edward with the scissor hands. It is therefore this trio, Burton, Elfman and Thompson who will write The Nightmare Before Christmas.

in Disney boxes

As everyone knows, Tim Burton started his career in the Disney studio. But he didn’t fit the shape and always stayed on the sidelines, and the studio didn’t know what to do with his creations. Vincent and Frankenweenie, his first two short films, were ignored by the studio, which didn’t know how to sell them. When Burton wanted to adapt this poem from his Disney years, he went into the group’s archives and learned that The Nightmare Before Christmas (the English title) still belonged to the studio with big ears.

Naturally, Disney recognized the treasure they had on hand. It must be said that from a somewhat marginal artist who he didn’t really know what to do with, Tim Burton has now become one of the most respected directors in Hollywood, even when it comes to making very personal films (Beetlejuice) and Edward in silver hands) than in quality blockbusters like Batman. The start of production on The Nightmare Before Christmas made it possible to bring a director who had passed the competition (the Warner studio) back to his knees while using his growing fame to glorify his own image. Disney is therefore providing the film with a budget of $ 18,000,000 (a little less than a quarter than an animated Disney classic). The film is a huge hit as it will bring $ 51 million to the studio when it is first released in theaters. In truth, it will do a lot more as it will appear in theaters multiple times, even in 3D, and will be the subject of many derivative products.

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