Nightmare Before Christmas

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German title Nightmare Before Christmas
Original title The Nightmare Before Christmas
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1993
length 73 minutes
Age rating FSK 6
Director Henry Selick
script Caroline Thompson ,
Michael McDowell
(based on a story by Tim Burton )
production Tim Burton , Denise Di Novi
music Danny Elfman
camera Pete Kozachik
cut Stan Webb

Original voices:

German voices:

Nightmare Before Christmas (German about: The Nightmare Before Christmas ) is a stop-motion film from Touchstone Pictures , based on a story by Tim Burton , from 1993. Although Burton was involved as a producer on the development of the film, he led contrary to a widespread misconception, not directing it himself. The film was directed by Henry Selick . The film opened in German cinemas on December 8, 1994.


Jack Skellington, a skinny skeleton in a pinstripe suit, is the pumpkin king and the great role model for all residents of Halloween Town , a city that is home to many different creepy characters who want to celebrate a better Halloween every year . However, Jack gets tired of doing the same thing every year and falls into melancholy . While walking through the forest he comes to a circle of trees, each tree representing a different holiday. Curious, Jack opens the door to Christmas Town . He likes the colorful surroundings and the cheerfulness there so much that he wants to get the residents of Halloween Town to celebrate Christmas this year. The "Halloweeners" prepare the presents while Jack has Santa Claus kidnapped so that he can fly to the children as "Nikki Graus" ( Sandy Claws in the original) in costume and sledges and bring them to the children. Sally, a creature sewn together from rags Dr. Finklesteins and secretly in love with Jack, is the only one who realizes that the whole thing is not right and tries to stop Jack. Santa Claus is dragged to Oogie Boogie, a "bogeyman" (the English Boogieman corresponds to the German "black man") and tortured together with Sally. Meanwhile, Jack flies through the country as Nikki-Graus and distributes gifts like a wind-up duck with razor-sharp teeth and biting the children or extremities of the "Halloweeners". Jack is therefore hunted by the government after a short time. They use rockets to shoot Jack, who is flying in the sky on the sled, but he survives. He realizes that Halloween is his festival and that he destroyed Christmas. But the residents of Halloween Town assume Jack is dead - so is Oogie Boogie. He continues to torment Santa Claus and Sally. Suddenly Jack appears and fights Oogie. The latter can escape, but a thread hangs from his body . Thinking about revenge, Jack pulls it. The sack falls off Oogie's body, and underneath is his real body, which is made up of beetles , worms , maggots and ants ("pests"). Everything is falling apart and you can see that Oogie Boogie is just a pince-nez . He is trampled by Santa Claus. Jack explains that he could still save Christmas. So it happens, and even Jack and Sally find each other in the end.

References to other genres

The music drama Nightmare Before Christmas , which is also referred to as a "puppet grusical", is a mixture of musical (because of the musical and dramatic structure), film (because of the camera work, the hard cuts and other cinematic features) and other forms of representation. Visually, the work is based quite clearly on the German expressionist film of the 1920s. Nightmare Before Christmas begins tragically at first, but shows itself comedically from the climax.

Dramatis Personae
  • Jack Skellington: An undead skeleton that is highly regarded in the Halloween world as the Haunted Lord and Pumpkin King.
  • Sally: Artistic being sewn together from rags, created by its creator, Dr. Finklestein, is being held prisoner. She fell in love with Jack.
  • Dr. Finklestein: This mixture of Dr. Frankenstein (in action) and Dr. The "brain" of the Halloween world is strange (in physique).
  • Oogie Boogie: Evil par excellence in the form of a pile of vermin held together by rags .
  • Oogie Boogies gang: Fear, fear and horror play a separate role, similar to other triad like the witches in Macbeth
  • Santa Claus
  • more characters.
  • Halloween world: cloudy gray and shadowy world of spooks, filled with nasty creatures that serve horror and horror (static)
  • Christmas world: a colorful world full of joy and the most lovable beings, peace on earth and a pleasure for people (dynamic)
  • real world
  • Worlds not shown in detail to other major holidays ( Valentine's Day , St. Patrick's Day , Easter and Thanksgiving )
"Overture" (intro or overture ), "Opening" (prologue), and "This is Halloween" (choir solos)

After the opening credits (the overture is a variation on many of the following themes) and the prologue in melodramatic poetry by a narrator (actor Patrick Stewart in the English version of the soundtrack; a shortened version with a different narrator can be heard in the film) from the off starts a choir with partial choir solos, which describes the world of Halloween in all its many facets. The choir solos give many protagonists the opportunity to briefly introduce themselves. In the 3D version , Marilyn Manson sang , but so did the band Panic! at the Disco a newer version of the song "This is Halloween".

"Jack's Lament", aria (Jack Skellington)

(Cemetery, secretly watched by Sally; also Zero, Jack's dog)

Jack introduces himself and his talents as the Pumpkin King and Haunted Lord. He realizes that over the years an inner emptiness has developed, a longing never known before . He would give up his role as Lord of Secrets if he could.

"In the Forest" (melodramatic) and "What's this", aria (Jack Skellington)

(Dr. Finklestein's castle)

Dr. Finklestein confirms his unconditional claims on Sally as her creator. Sally prepares a drink to meet Dr. To put Finklestein to sleep and to flee temporarily.

(Forest not far from the city, then Christmas world)

Jack discovers trees in the forest that act as gateways to other worlds. He is drawn into the Christmas world, which amazes and inspires him with completely new impressions.

In the 3D version, the group " Fall Out Boy " recorded a new version of What's This .

"Town Meeting Song", aria (Jack Skellington), choir solos

(Citizens' meeting in the community center)

Jack, returned, tells the rest of the world about Halloween about Christmas land. He tries to describe the magic of this world, but only meets with a general lack of understanding. Only the portrayal of Santa Claus as "Niki-Graus" with terrifying facial expressions can save the performance for the horror-tested audience.

“Jack and Sally Montage”, cinematic and melodramatic scenes

(Jack's tower apartment, Dr. Finklestein's castle, town, cemetery)

Sally could Dr. Outsmart Finklestein and put him to sleep. She picks a flower in the cemetery. The vision of a Christmas tree is revealed to her, which turns into a flaming nightmare.

"Jack's Obsession", choir solos, aria (Jack Skellington)

(Town, then Jack's tower apartment)

Jack laments that he does not understand the secret of Christmas, more than that, that memories of the land of Christmas are fading. In a sudden vision Jack thinks he understands that it is not "Niki-Graus", but he should organize Christmas this year - an idea with which he can infect the inhabitants of the Halloween world.


(Community center)

Jack starts preparing for Christmas. For this purpose, Santa Claus is supposed to be kidnapped by the Oogie Boogies gang (Intermezzo "Kidnap the Sandy Claws"). Sally tries to warn Jack about her vision of the burning Christmas tree. He misunderstood her fear - completely absorbed by the thought of "his Christmas" - as Sally's modesty: she should tailor his Santa Claus costume for him.

“Making Christmas”, choir solos

(City) The preparations for Christmas are shown, in particular the preparation of presents: hats made from rotten rats, matryoshkas containing scorpions, or shrunken heads. At the same time, preparations are underway in Christmas land - until the kidnapping of Santa Claus by the Oogie Boogies gang actually succeeds. Santa Claus is locked to Oogie Boogie ("Oogie Boogie's Song"). Jack is extremely satisfied with himself and the preparations.

"Kidnapping Song", Oogie Boogie's assistant.
"Oogie Boogie's Song", duet (Oogie Boogie, Santa Claus)
"Sally's Song", aria (Sally)

(Graveyard) Sally sings worryingly about the misfortune she sees coming towards Jack. Then she gives in to her love for him and sings, if without hope, of their future together. She decides to help Jack by freeing Santa Claus.

“Christmas Eve Montage”, cinematic

Jack drives the sleigh laden with presents down to earth to bring the presents for Christmas. These trigger screams and sheer horror, the police and finally the military are called for help. Jack's sledge is shot down (dramatic climax).

"Poor Jack", aria (Jack Skellington)


Once again conscious, Jack realizes the mistake he has made. He laments the suffering he has brought others, but above all the misfortune that has befallen him. In complete self-pity, he wishes himself dead, buried and weeping.

But then Jack remembers his role as the pumpkin king and master of the haunted. It's not too late to free Santa Claus so that he can save Christmas and reconsider his own role in the world of Halloween. He storms off full of new energy.

"To the Rescue", melodramatic

After Sally's attempt to save Santa Claus fails, she too becomes a prisoner of Oogie Boogies. At this point Jack steps in, who defeats Oogie Boogie in a duel in a casino-like setting and frees Sally and Santa Claus.

"Finale" (choir and choir solos) and "Reprise", duet (Jack Skellington and Sally)


After general perplexity about the failed Christmas party and the shooting down of Jack, Santa Claus also brings Christmas and snow into the Halloween world. Now all residents can understand the magic of Christmas.


Jack and Sally confess their love to each other.

"End Title" (Outro, Nachspiel)

Epilogue and closing credits with variations of the different musical themes. The spoken epilogue (again performed by Patrick Stewart in English) did not find its way into the film version.

Awards (selection)

At the Saturn Award ceremony in 1994 , the film was awarded in the categories of Best Fantasy Film and Best Music . It also received an Oscar nomination in 1994 for the Best Visual Effects category .

3D film version

On October 20, 2006 Disney released a revised version in 3D by Industrial Light & Magic , which was only shown in a few cinemas. In connection with the 3-D re-release of the film, Disney released a special double-CD soundtrack four days later . Artists like Fall Out Boy , Marilyn Manson , Panic! at the Disco , Fiona Apple , Amy Lee , Flyleaf , Rise Against , KoRn and She Wants Revenge cover versions of the original pieces from the film. The album quickly reached number 4 on the iTunes album chart. In contrast to the original version, in the 3D version the credits are named who were involved in the 3D implementation. The 3D Blu-ray version also includes the original version of Frankenweenie .


The lexicon of international films judged the film to be “a puppet film set in an atmosphere that is as gloomy and romantic as it is moving and comical”, characterized by “an extraordinarily rich imagination”. The film is rated as a "small masterpiece of surreal cinema".


  • Daphne Skinner: Tim Burton's The nightmare before Christmas. A novel. Bastei-Verlag Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1994, ISBN 3-404-13686-1 . (German by Michael Schönenbröcher, 104 pp.)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Nightmare Before Christmas. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed November 1, 2019 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used