The Nightmare Before Christmas, released in 1993, was Tim Burton's first animated feature. It utilized stylized puppets and clay mation animation to create a unique style, yet still reminiscent of puppet animations. The film was nominated for best visual effects in 1994 as well as winning the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and Best Music from the Academy of Science Fiction, Drama & Horror Films, UK. The film is widely recognized for its dark style, creativity, and musical score.

Directed by Henry Selick
Distributed by
Written by Tim Burton
Country UK
IMDb profile


The Nightmare Before Christmas is about the quest of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. When Jack finds himself bored of Halloween he wanders into the woods, searching for something to inspire him. He stumbles into the world of Christmas Town. This strange mood and holiday baffles Skellington, but he quickly falls in love with the holiday. Wishing to duplicate the joy he felt, he attempts to bring his town together to reproduce Christmas.


The animation in Nightmare is highly stylized. It uses iconic figuration and naturalistic motion in order to create a tangible world. The iconicity of the characters is important, because without this iconicity it would be difficult to identify with the bizarre creatures of the film. By humanizing the figures, the audiences is able to relate to the characters as well as appreciate the imagination of the creators. The naturalistic motion is slightly uncanny (Maureen Furniss) because the audience is watching animated puppets. This uncanny feeling is not too off putting however, and quickly into the film, the audience accepts the motion of the characters.

An interesting attribute of this film is the worlds it creates. The Halloween town is extremely deep and interesting. The viewer is quickly immersed in this fictional world. Christmas Town is also interesting but nearly as detailed or tactile as Halloween Town. This sensation parallels the plot, where Jack stumbles into this new world, which would feel strange and different to him. This sensation successfully carries over to the audience.

Tim Burton continued this style of animation with his later film Corpse Bride in 2005.

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