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Representation Of Halloween In Tim Burton's Films A Nightmare Before Christmas And Edward Scissorhands

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Edward Christmashands: Tim Burton’s Nightmare

As if to bring us into the mind of Tim Burton, both films, “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Edward Scissorhands,” begin with the opening of a door leading us into a world of mystery. In “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the main character, Jack Skellington, becomes unsatisfied with his Halloween surroundings. He feels as though a part of him is missing which leads him to stumble upon Christmastown but he soon learns that he may not be missing anything at all. The film “Edward Scissorhands” centers around a freakish young man with an appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. Edward soon realizes that he does not fit in with the narrow-minded “normal” people of the other world and returns back to isolation. Both of these Tim Burton films reveal extreme similarities and differences within their plots, themes, and cinematography.

A curious child becomes fascinated with questions regarding the origins of snow and finds herself, with a grandmother’s wisdom, stumbling upon the story of Edward Scissorhands. An analogy of a vegetable chopper turned to human by an inventor is attributed to the characteristics of Edward. Just before Edward can finish his creation, isolation atop a mountains sets in after the inventor dies and Edward is left with scissors in place of his hands. This gives the title of the story full accreditation and justification. Every day, Edward is overcome with unbearable sadness due to the fact that he cannot be a part of the colorful neighborhoods he sees from above. The neighborhood comes to him when an Avon representative, Peg Boggs, ignores the “haunted rumors” and ventures into the derelict mansion where she finds Edward locked away in isolation. Peg feels compassion for Edward and immediately invites him to live with her. At first, the neighborhood is fascinated by this new arrival. He becomes a local celebrity, dazzling neighbors with his pet-grooming, hair cutting skills, and bush-trimming. However, the neighbors fail to realize the real Edward; an innocent and scared figure thrust into an unknown culture. Edward’s only hope is Peg’s daughter, Kim, who connects with Edward due to his devotion to her. This irritates Kim’s boyfriend which leads him to turn the entire town against him, leading both Kim and Edward toward a tragic conclusion.

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In another eerie Tim Burton film lies “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, has grown weary of throwing his annual Halloween party and yearns for a change. While wandering aimlessly through a forest, Jack stumbles upon a tree with an image of a tree painted on the door. Opening the door, he is immediately sucked into what is known as Christmastown. The amount of joy and happiness in the air overwhelms him and he makes the decision to take over Christmas from Santa. His Halloween town family supports his decision; however, they realize that they only know how to make frightful things which is not what kids expect for Christmas. Sally, the ragdoll, warns Jack his plan will end in disaster, but Jack presses on, kidnaps Santa, and throws him to the evil-bogeyman for safe keeping. Jack delivers presents to all of the townspeople but they only terrify the children. After multiple calls, the military is sent to stop the Santa imposter and Jack is shot down from the sky. Jack realizes what he’s done and sets out to find Santa to save Christmas. Now free, Santa sets out to fix what Jack has broken. After delivering presents to the townspeople, Santa makes a stop in Halloweentown, and as a gesture of goodwill, he makes it snow. Jack comes to the realization that he doesn’t need a change; he needs someone, and that person is Sally.

Apparently, both the main themes that emanate from the two films revolves around contemporary living in the society. In Edward Scissorhands, Edward is seen to be kind and loving without fear of reprisal just before the corruption in the society. In essence, Burton’s intention is to bring out the morality that should be embraced in society. However, this happens to the contrary in the society. Edward is corrupted by society. He is framed for the act of trying to defending Kim when Jim returned to payback unto them. As a result, Edward stabs Jim which makes him be on the run or else will face the wrath of the society. In the ‘Nightmare before Christmas’, Burton develops the themes of the film basing on the ‘why questions’. The themes of self-discovery, prudence, and creative energy are outwardly described by the film. Certainly, Jack can be attributed to suffering from writer’s block which has affected him in all aspects of his life. For the audience, it could be noted the main theme that is being presented to them is self-discovery, which simply entails ‘be yourself’ attitude. In the end, as Jack is leaving Christmastown after making a valiant effort. Although he failed, he had made some bold steps and efforts. Afterward, Jack goes and rejuvenates his energy to be more passionate about his work, which portrays self-discovery.

On the cinematography of the two films, it can be simply explained that the films engaged high-quality visuals and styles which captures the attention of the audience. Certainly, in Edward Scissorhand’s film, Burton has embraces the use of a claustrophobic camera which is inventive in capturing the themes of isolation and self-discovery in the society. Besides, the choice of style also enhances the prejudice which is being faced and the social uniformity. What is more interesting is that the movie is not made in a Halloween or Christmas film. It is filmed uniquely which makes it actually unique, attractive and explicit in developing the themes and plot of the storyline. On the same note, Nightmare before Christmas by Burton has also been brought up effectively through the cinematography technology that has been employed. The stop-motion technique has been utilized which gives the film a definitely different flow which flavors and gives gritty look. In addition, use of lights has been enhanced in the filming if the movie. Besides that, throughout the Nightmare before Christmas, moonlight is effectively used in lighting. However, it is imperative to note that natural light was not used to light throughout the filming of the whole movie. Moreover, Jack was accompanied by a ghostly dog that could not speak. This makes Jack to be detached and look almost like a god in the town. In conclusion, the two films have employed the best ways in which the sequence of events can be captured by just having a view of the films. While Edward Scissorhands uses natural lighting in filming the movie, Nightmare before Christmas has developed a different style; both of which they present their plots and themes effectively.

Works Cited

  1. Burton, Tim, et al. Edward Scissorhands. 20th Century Fox, 1990.
  2. Thompson, Frank. Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film, the Art, the Vision. Disney Editions, 1993.

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Representation Of Halloween In Tim Burton’s Films A Nightmare Before Christmas And Edward Scissorhands. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from
“Representation Of Halloween In Tim Burton’s Films A Nightmare Before Christmas And Edward Scissorhands.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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