Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s enduring Disney masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas, has enjoyed a loyal, ever-growing audience for more than 25 years. Unlike most Disney features of the era, Nightmare was darker, more stylized, and complex. Its spooky-but-humanized ghouls made the film fun and accessible to kids, but also interesting and entertaining enough that adults still watch it year after year.
After so many viewings, one might see past the story and strive to find deeper meaning in the film. Why do Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie dislike each other so much? Who was Jack when he was alive? What do the characters in Halloween Town represent? Is there a “Christ” in the Christmas presented in Nightmare? Fans have spent many years discussing the possible answers to all these questions and more.
‘Frankenweenie,’ ‘The Corpse Bride’ And ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Are All One, Long Story
This popular theory, found all over the internet, contends that Victor in Frankenweenie is a younger version of the Victor in The Corpse Bride, and that Victor becomes Jack Skellington in the afterlife. These characters’ physical builds and canine pals lend credence to this theory.
In all three stories, the male lead interacts with a dog that has kicked the bucket, and all three pups (or ghost pups) are roughly the same size and shape.1,136247Do you buy this?
The Tension Between Halloween Town And Christmas Town Mirrors Burton’s Relationship With Disney
Disney may have given Tim Burton his start, but the relationship was far from smooth. When Burton was first hired, his offbeat style made him an outcast, and much of his work remained on the cutting room floor. He eventually made two short films for Disney, but was then fired. Their aesthetics just didn’t mesh well.
YouTube’s Screen Rant contends that this tension can be felt in the differences between the bright, cheery, Disney-like Christmas Town and the strange, dark world of Halloween Town.728137Do you buy this?
Oogie Boogie Was Originally Jack's Successor
An interesting theory explaining the beef between Jack and Oogie Boogie was conceived by Redditor u/babaoryan, in which Oogie was initially to take over as the king of Halloween Town.
They contend that when Jack wished to step down, Oogie Boogie was the obvious choice to take over. Due to his predilections, however, Jack thought it better to go another way, so he had Dr. Finkelstein create the mayor. When the jilted Oogie went after Jack, he got banished to the outskirts of town.
This could explain why Oogie's lair is so far from all the action, and also the reason the mayor is scared of Oogie’s minions, Lock, Shock, and Barrel.638146Do you buy this?
The Citizens Of Halloween Town Represent Types Of Fears
Redditor u/djmcknig theorized that all the characters in Halloween Town represent a basic human fear, and the most basic human fears have larger roles in their community. They believe Dr. Finkelstein represents a fear of aging; Sally, disability; the Mayor, social anxiety; Jack, the mighty fear of death.
Oogie Boogie, by their approximation, represents the fear of the dark, or that which cannot be seen. The less prominent characters, the Redditor believes, signify things like the fear of losing a pet (Zero) and the fear of unintended pregnancy (Lock, Shock, and Barrel).756187Do you buy this?