Tim Burton

Hanging Tree – Nightmare Before Christmas

One may argue that the skulls within Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas do feature similarities with the Skeletal figurines that are sold in Mexico during the Day of the Dead. The skeletal figures hanging off the tree within the opening scene may feature similarities with the Sugar Skulls. The skeletons within the film do feature very simplistic elements and the style could also be interpreted as similar to the Day of the Dead celebration.

The skeletal figures within the opening scene also feature a distinct cross on their foreheads, which also appears on the Mexican Sugar Skulls. It could be argued that the cross on the sugar skulls represent’s the ‘Spanish Invasion’ or Catholicism among the Mexican community.

Chloe Sayar argues that the skeleton figurines were initially designed for children who had recently died during the Day of the Dead. The figurines replicate daily chores or activities that are usually performed by the living and the skeletons often mimic figures such as Mayors, newlyweds, artists or ‘bishops’. Sayar also explains that the skeletons are influenced by Renaissance paintings, such as ‘The dance of death’, which also mimics the living and ridicules political or authoritative figures.

Jack Skellington’s constant signing and dancing throughout the film could feature similarities to the ‘Dance of Death’. Jack’s attempt to replicate Santa Claus and his desire to change the entire notion of Christmas amongst the living may also feature similarities with the Mexican figurines, which also replicate the living.

Sayar, Chloe. Fiesta: Days of the Dead & Other Mexican Festivals. Texas: University of Texas Press, 2009

Magliozzi, Ron He, Jenny & Warren, Kate. “Tim Burton: The Exhibiton “. Melbourne: Australian Centre for Moving Image, 2010.

Image Citations:

Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/43157353@N05/5043331078/

http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/04/13/travel/13heads.html?pagewanted=1


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