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The Nightmare Before Christmas originated in a poem written by Burton in 1982 while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation.With the success of Vincent in the same year, Burton began to consider developing The Nightmare Before Christmas as either a short film or 30-minute television special to no avail.
But the director of the film, a veteran stop-action master named Henry Selick, is the person who has made it all work. Working with gifted artists and designers, he has made a world here that is as completely new as the worlds we saw for the first time in such films as "Metropolis" (1927), "The Cabinet of Dr.
Caligari" or "Star Wars." What all of these films have in common is a visual richness, so abundant that they deserve more than one viewing. Then go back just to look in the corners of the screen, and appreciate the little visual surprises and inspirations that are tucked into every nook and cranny.
Danny Elfman wrote the songs and score, and provided the singing voice of Jack.
The principal voice cast also includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory.
Over the years, Burton's thoughts regularly returned to the project, and in 1990, he made a development deal with Walt Disney Studios.
Production started in July 1991 in San Francisco; Disney released the film through Touchstone Pictures because the studio believed the film would be "too dark and scary for kids".In an ordinary animated film, the characters are drawn.Here they are constructed, and then moved a little, frame by frame, so that they appear to live.The movie begins with the information that each holiday has its own town.Halloweentown, for example, is in charge of all the preparations for Halloween, and its most prominent citizen is a bony skeleton named Jack Skellington, whose moves and wardrobe seem influenced by Fred Astaire.To move up to a more important holiday, one that people take more seriously and enjoy more than Halloween.And so he engineers a diabolical scheme in which Santa is kidnapped, and Jack himself plays the role of Jolly Old St. (Some of the presents, when finally distributed to little girls and boys, are so hilariously ill-advised that I will not spoil the fun by describing them here.) Tim Burton, the director of "Beetlejuice," "Edward Scissorhands" and the "Batman" movies, has been creating this world in his head for about 10 years, ever since his mind began to stray while he was employed as a traditional animator on an unremarkable Disney project.One day Jack stumbles into the wrong entryway in Halloweentown, and finds himself smack dab in the middle of preparations for Christmas. Instead of ghosts and goblins and pumpkins, there are jolly little helpers assisting Santa in his annual duty of bringing peace on earth and goodwill to men.Back in Halloweentown, Jack Skellington feels a gnawing desire to better himself.It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, a first for an animated film.The film has since been reissued by Walt Disney Pictures, and was re-released annually in Disney Digital 3-D from 2006 until 2009, making it the first stop-motion animated feature to be entirely converted to 3D.