Enjoy 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' with live Grand Rapids Pops performance celebrating the film's 25th anniversary

Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas flick or a Halloween film? Is the film by Tim Burton meant to be seen in October or December?

Who cares? For it is plain, as anyone can see, it’s simply meant to be.

This, fall you’ll want to pick October and the Grand Rapids Pops’ performance of A Nightmare Before Christmas, the full-length film plus live music performed by the Grand Rapids Symphony in DeVos Performance Hall.

Should you see it? Say it once, say it twice, take a chance and roll the dice. Ride with the moon in the dead of night!

The adventures of Jack Skellington, Sally and Zero the ghost dog comes to town for one night only at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20. Tickets start at $18 for the Gerber SymphonicBoom program. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony or go online to GRSymphony.org for more.

Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the performance, the first of four full-length films that the Grand Rapids Symphony will present this season. The other three are Home Alone on Nov. 29 for one-night only, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with two performances Feb. 1-2, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl with three shows March 8-10.

Co-written and produced by Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas is the story of the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington. Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Jack longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere.

Burton, who began his career as an animator for Walt Disney, cooked up the idea for a Halloween-themed, low-budget, stop-motion film for TV along the lines of TV’s Rankin/Bass holiday classic, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The film starring the voices of Chris Sarandon as Jack and Catherine O’Hara as Sally celebrates the 25th anniversary of its release in 1993.

Even if you’ve seen it a dozen times before, you haven’t experienced the ultimate surround sound of nearly 80 instruments including the spooky, subterranean voice of a contrabass clarinet.

And even if you’ve seen it dozens and dozens of times before, there probably are a few things that you don’t know about the film that was nominated for the 1994 Academy Award for Best Effects, Visual Effects, and the 1994 Golden Globe for Best Original Score.

Here are seven things you didn’t know about The Nightmare Before Christmas.

1. The idea for The Nightmare Before Christmas was inspired by a poem written by Tim Burton that turned the classic poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas upside down and inside out.

2. The script for the film directed by Henry Selick didn’t come first, the songs did. Tim Burton shared the poem plus his original sketches and drawings for the characters with Danny Elfman, and the composer was off and running.

3. Any guesses what Danny Elfman’s favorite line is? In a 2010 interview with Interview magazine, Elfman said his favorite lyric line is, “Perhaps it’s the head that I found in the lake.” Elfman added in the interview that Burton gets the credit for that particular line.

4. The 1993 movie was filmed in old-fashioned stop-motion animation, a painstakingly slow process. The actual animation took about 18 months, but the entire production from storyboards to final editing took three-and-a-half years. At its peak, 12 to 17 animators and about 120 people in all were working on it.

5. Actor Chris Sarandon is the voice of Jack Skellington. The singing voice of the Pumpkin King, however, is none other than composer and songwriter Danny Elfman.

6. The now iconic character of Jack Skellington didn’t make his film debut in The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Filmgoers got their first glimpse of Skellington in the 1988 film Beetlejuice, and he later made a cameo appearance in the haunted shipwreck scene in the 1996 film James and the Giant Peach, both by Burton and Selick.

7. Finally, if you’re still wondering whether it’s a Halloween film or a Christmas movie, director Henry Selick, at a Q&A at Colorado’s Telluride Horror Show film festival, declared it’s a Halloween film.

Remember, life’s no fun without a good scare.

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 10:00 AM
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