Thursday, October 18, 2018

What were the Lessons in The Nightmare Before Christmas?

25 years ago (geez, I'm getting old) the stop motion film "The Nightmare Before Christmas" came out. This is one of those films that I think everyone likes, and many of us love. It also manages to straddle the entire time between October and January, making it not only really re-watchable, but worth it for Disneyland to do a makeover every year on the Haunted Mansion.

One thing that isn't so obvious, though, is what the movie is trying to tell the audience. I have it narrowed down to two possibilities, one constructive and one destructive. Let's tackle the destructive one first, since it's quick and I'm less fond of it.

"Stay in your box with your friends and leave everyone else alone." Not a great lesson, but one that it pretty easy to see in the film. Jack tries to branch out of what he normally does and royally screws things up. Santa verbally slaps him down and goes on to fix things. We're left with Jack realizing that he should have just left well enough alone and focuses again on Halloween. Like I said, I'm not fond of that lesson, so let's go on to a more positive take.

"It's great that you want to learn new things, but don't ignore the input of others." This is a much easier pill to swallow, since we see Jack trying to figure out everything to do with Christmas on his own. Not only does he sneak around and not actually talk to Santa or anyone in Christmastown, but he ignores Sally's warnings. All of this results in Jack setting off on a quest without knowing everything that he should, and makes a mockery of Christmas. Santa reinforces this lesson by telling Jack to listen to Sally, which leads Jack to the realization that she means more to him than he thought. We end with a possibly good, possibly bad situation where the rest of Halloweentown are enraptured by snow the way Jack was earlier. Hopefully he's learned enough to know how to focus them and will work with Santa in the future.

Those are my takes on the "messages, morals, and meanings" (to steal something from Mission Log) of the movie. What do you think? Do you have an alternate take on the movie? Let me know in the comments.

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