The delights of fright and the grotesque, the strangeness of communication between realms... Tim Burton’s Gothic aesthetic shines in this ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ set to Danny Elfman’s brilliant score, full of delicious reminiscences.
The town of Halloween, a fantastical city inhabited by monsters, is introduced to the spirit of Christmas by a scarecrow named Jack Skellington. Tim Burton’s affinity for the grotesque, in a mix of the marvellous and the frightening, inspired one of Danny Elfman’s most brilliant scores. There is a timeless and deliberately impossible-to-place quality to this music, which shows a diversity of influences—from jazz and blues to Wagner and great film composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Erich Korngold, and Max Steiner. An expert in the evocation of images and atmospheres, Elfman uses a certain ‘medievalism’, right from the opening march, to shape the spooky space of the city. Flowing from reassuring Christmas bells, to a quote from the apocalyptic Dies Irae, to a 1950s nightclub ambiance, the acoustic kaleidoscope he creates is not just enchanting but also highly effective.