Australian Centre for Moving Image
In 2010, The Australian Centre for Moving Image hosted a Tim Burton Exhibition, which featured a range of drawings, poems, sketches, movies, books, advertisements and photographs. It was interesting to see Burton’s early works and there were also screenings of his latest films such as Alice in Wonderland. All the Nightmare before Christmas works were illuminated in neon colours, which also emphasised the characters within the film, such as Jack Skellington. I recognised that the majority of Burton’s characters or figures were over exaggerated, elongated and distorted, which did provide each image with a very distinctive style.
According to Ron Magliozzi Burton is heavily influenced by ‘Popular Culture’ such as literature, poetry, horror films, sci – fi, television and advertising. The majority of Burton’s work, especially his films attempt to combine children’s fairytales or fantasies with ‘adulthood’ and a macabre, ‘gothic’ style. One may argue that the Nightmare before Christmas combines children’s fantasies with morbid, exaggerated styles or forms.
The film may provide a sinister representation of christmas, which is composed with Jack’s reputation for hosting memorable Halloween festivals. Magliozzi also suggests that the film was originally produced as poem, which may explain why there are so many rhymes throughout the film, especially within the opening scene. Magliozzi also explains that the transition between Halloween and Christmas also reflects Burton’s desire to flee from his hometown at a young age. Jack may resemble Burton who is attempting to escape from his own town in order to discover something new.
Maglozzi also refers to Burton’s work as “Carniveleque”, which emphasised through the choice of colour and the character’s stylised proportions. The text also associates the pumpkin within the Nightmare before Christmas as ‘Carnivelsque’ and it could be argued that the Pumpkins are exaggerated, which provides them with a very menacing appearance.
The pumpkins are a reoccurring image throughout the film, which may correspond with Jack’s skeletal frame. It could be argued that the eyes and the mouth of the pumpkin feature similar qualities to the skull, especially when Jack decides to wear the Pumpkin on top of his head during the Halloween celebration.
Magliozzi also explains that skulls, skeletons and amputated figures are a very popular representation within Burton’s work, which also feature similarities with the Skeletal figurines that are created for the Mexican Festival of the Dead. Sally’s stitches and Jack’s elongated mouth may resemble similar qualities to the Sugar Skulls.
Magliozzi, Ron He, Jenny & Warren, Kate. “Tim Burton: The Exhibiton “. Melbourne: Australian Centre for Moving Image, 2010.