Saturday, October 03, 2015


Let's bury the corpses deeper and ban Halloween!


The Story itself is a perverse well ending distortion of all festivities children love into a nightmare. Children adore Halloween, even though it is dedicated to wintry death, the ghostlike dead, sour witches, menacing wizards, all kinds of dangerous beings that only revel in the enjoyment of death for themselves and for everyone else. On the other hand Christmas has become the celebration of sweet gifts, sugary presents, honey-like offerings of love and friendship to children and to everyone we love and love can only exist in life. Or Can it really?

Some sort of rivalry emerges in the minds of these Halloween monsters with Santa Claus and Christmas. So they use their great hero, Mr. Jack, to kidnap Santa Claus and to replace him with himself and his own presents that are necessarily obnoxious and disgusting and aggressive and ugly and repulsive, and many other things along these lines. He creates a real revolution in the world of the living who just pick up their weapons and start shooting and finally manage to bring that Mr. Jack and his sleigh down, but not down into their living world,  but down into the world of the dead, that is to say the world of Halloween.

But down there a girl, in fact some kind of a rag doll made up of pieces sown together has fallen in love with this Mr. Jack, and sure enough her love is a long story of pain, suffering and pangs of fear and anguish. Mr. Jack does not see that love and is not even, interested in love. Mr. Jack is only thinking of how he could entertain his living dead community with some antics and pranks performed on the living that are not yet dead.

But since a miracle is always possible, that miracle happens and Mr. Jack after having been shot down from the sky back into his cemetery and tomb comes up again in his ghoulish world and discovers they are on the point of killing both Santa Claus and the sweet rag doll that had tried to liberate Father Christmas who had not been able to escape. Strangely enough Mr. Jack has met with a real epiphany somewhere between the sky and his burying vault and he actually saves the day by sparing Santa Claus, giving him his sleigh and his rein-deers back and everything can go back to normal, or can it?

The story is nothing that will last forever. The animated film, the animation itself, in other words the film in its visual dimension is a mind-stirring adventure. Tim Burton is an expert at transforming anything into its opposite and merging the two together and turning the most repulsive being into a real darling. Here he manages Mr. Jack who is like a human-looking daddy-long-legs into a real darling that becomes lovely and lovable when he is performing the worst practical jokes on children. This is possible because the only reaction of the living is to be afraid, to run away or to turn around and attack in order to kill. Why don’t the living take what they are given without forgetting that you must not look a gift horse in the mouth and you must enjoy the gift because any gift is always a sign of love and it comes from the heart.

There is a nostalgic and melancholy tone in this film as if Tim Burton regretted the fact that living humans, that is to say all humans, cannot accept those who are different, the intentions of these beings, though they come from the heart even if they may be surprising. Human beings are so narrowly enshrined and engulfed and embalmed in their fear and limited normative world that they are no longer able to see what love is when it comes from someone who does not do it the same way as them. It is sad.

The other marvelous fact is that the whole film is sung and accompanied by music. Danny Elfman has made a prodigious work in this film. Without the music the whole film would be so sad, so dark, so bloodless and spineless that it would not be able to stand up by itself. This Christmas story, after all, or Halloween story if you prefer, is just as sad as Scrooge and yet with some sweet star light all along. Of course what’s more, like Tim Burton, Danny Elfman is a great borrower and you will recognize here and there some tit bits coming from far away and other films, other music, at times his own attached to some other film. It is discreet and no children can catch the nuggets, but with some experience we can and that just sounds fascinating.

I am sure your grandchildren might like it, even if you may find it a little bit somber. Do not forget children always enjoy a trace of fear and a piece of supernatural emotion, just as much as they love a trace of sugar on their pastry and a piece of Turkish delight, even if it opens the door to Narnia.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
ByJacques COULARDEAUon March 7, 2004

A film of great interest, artistically. It is a Christmas pantomime that reveals a very high level of technical perfection in animation. It is a very good musical where music and singing are literally merged into the pictures. It is also a very profound film about children : their expectation of fear with Halloween and of joy with Christmas. Children are just like adults, dark on one side and colorful on the other side, and they don't want the two to be mixed or just to mix. This gives a great attractive power to the film for these children who will be panickstricken by the kidnapping and possible killing of Santa Claus, and who will be thrilled by the frightening characters that haunt our vision of Halloween and this strange night when ghosts come back to roam our streets begging for candy. A classic for children and a piece of artistic pleasure for adults.

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