Today I watched The Nightmare before Christmas. That, to me, is a fascinating work of fiction; everything about it--the premise, the story, the characters, the music--everything is so unique, and I love it.
I'm a big fan of Danny Elfman anyway, though; especially since I've seen some of his non-Burton flicks--Meet the Robinsons and the live-action Charlotte's Web--he's very eclectic, very talented, and, in Nightmare, he's at the peak of his form. Nevertheless, the music is only a sidenote in this review, albeit a very important sidenote.
There is a rumor being circulated by some of my friends that I hate Santa Claus. Because this rumor is only a slight exaggeration, I've done everything I can to bolster its credulity, but in reality, I don't really hate Santa Claus; what I hate is the way Christmas has become a celebration of Capitalism (Capitalistmas, I call it) because I feel that that is very wrong.
My birthday is only a couple days before Christmas. On the first day of Christmas break during my senior year of high school, a bunch of my friends kidnapped me and took me to see the third LOTR movie. After that ridiculously long movie ended for the umpteenth time and the credits finally started rolling so I could stand up and regain circulation in my legs, we all went out to Taco Bell.
At the time, one of my closest friends--the person whom I felt understood me best--was a buddy of mine named Dominic, and he was a part of this group. This was back in my days of prolific ranting, and Dom and I did a lot of ranting together, each fueling the other's frenzy. On this particular night, sitting in Taco Bell, we went off like a pair of roman candles, attacking the modern degradation of yuletide holiness. I went home that night and started a short story that ultimately wound up being the most cynical piece I've ever written. I would include it here, but, alas, I have no access to it because the flash drive I put all my works on so I didn't have to move here with a fat stack of CD-Rs died (don't worry; those CD-Rs are safely stashed at my parents' house).
Anyway, from then on I adopted the persona of one with a passionate hatred for the Jolly Old Elf, writing angry songs and stories, slandering every facet of his character I could think of.
I kept this attitude up as a missionary, though usually only in the company of other missionaries, denying any allegations while in polite company. One summer day, after a particularly hot and frustrating round of tracting, I came home for lunch and penned the following:
Christmas Sentiments for the Not-so-Jolly
by Elder Jepson
Christmas comes and Johnny's sure
To remember what it's for
So writes his prayer out on a list,
And just to make sure he's no missed,
He leaves and offering to his god
(A greedy being, so it's not odd):
A plate of cookies and some milk
Then goes to bed wrapped in a quilt.
He stays awake (he cannot sleep)
And so a silent vigil keeps
To see if he can hear a sound
When his god comes roaming 'round.
Then Santa Claus, his Christmas god,
On Johnny's snowy rooftop trods,
Goes down the chimney, to the table,
Eats all the cookies he is able,
Then downs the milk and grabs the list
And holds it tightly in his fist.
Now, if you break the stringent laws
Set up by fat ole Santa Claus
He'll leave you coal instead of goods,
So you must do just what you should
Lest you end up like Johnny, who
Got just old coal and nothing new.
I don't believe in Santa Claus
And, if you must know, it's because
He's a false god, and that's bad;
Don't worship him, it makes me sad.
That's not the point of Christmastime
(Since you forgot, let me remind);
Christmas should be about Christ
Now go your way and get it right!
If you love Santa and his bells
More than Jesus, you'll go to hell!
A while later, that missionary revealed to me that he had a copy of the soundtrack to The Nightmare before Christmas hidden away. He revealed that to me by one p-day blasting "Kidnap the Santy Claus" out of his portable CD player.
I can't really explain what happened to me then because I don't really understand it myself, but I was in a very--uh--odd mood after that--and that's all I really care to say about the incident.
FLASHFORWARD approx. 1 year:
Last Sunday at Church, a friend of mine spoke in in sacrament meeting and at one point used The Nightmare before Christmas as a beautiful analogy that really struck me--not just because it was a solid analogy, but because I was shocked that a movie with a soundtrack that could put a missionary in a reckless mood could be used for such edification.
I've been avoiding that movie for years, even since before my conversation with Dom, worried what it would do to me. I saw it once when it was fairly new, but I don't think I've ever seen it all the way through since then, and I've seen parts of it on only two or three occasions. After that talk, though, I decided perhaps I ought to give it another chance.
Today I had no substitute teaching to do, and so last night I found myself dreading a long and lonely Halloween. The above mentioned friend texted me and asked me whether I had any plans, so I texted her and told her I didn't, that I wasn't even working, that I had no idea what I was gonna do; she said she would be home most of the day (she lives in my apartment complex), that she would be studying most of the day but might be able to pencil me in so we could watch a movie or something.
A copy of The Nightmare before Christmas lives here in my apartment; it belongs to one of my roommates. As I was making myself some french toast for breakfast this morning, that realization dawned on me, so this afternoon my friend and I watched it.
[I don't know how I feel about bloggers making pseudonyms for friends and family members, but the fact that they all seem to makes me wonder whether it's actually taboo to name names; that's why I'm avoiding that. Just thought you should know. Refering to someone over and over as "my friend" seems awkward--wait a minute--I named Dom's name--hmmmmmm...].
Anyway, so Sarah and I watched Nightmare today, and I really enjoyed it. Better yet, it left me feeling really--I dunno--not creepy, which was a relief since there was a girl in the room. I must admit, I did start twitching a bit during "Kidnap the Santy Claus," but I think that was mostly an act of will, to be honest.
One thing that impacted me most in the movie was the whole trying-to-be-someone-else motif thing; ya know, Jack trying to make himself and those around him become something they weren't. I think we all--well, I won't make that generalization, I guess--I know I have that tendency; I see someone who's good at something and start wishing that I was as good at that something as that someone is, even though I have my own talents and ability's. Jack was the Pumpkin King--no small position--and very good at what he did; why should he want to be Santa Claus?
On the flip side of that, though, there's the whole concept of just how hard it is to change, to become better--especially when those around you just don't understand. Furthermore, I found it very insightful that Jack's fatal mistake was when he started catering the truth of Christmas Town to the mindset of Halloween Town citizens. That's something I do occasionally: bend the truth until it conforms to the status quo in some small way. It's a terrible habit, really; luckily (or perhaps unfortunately), I have yet to be "blown to smithereens" because of it.
The most poignant moment for me, though, was when Jack was sitting in his room, pouring over his books and experiments, scientifically trying to figure out the concept of joy, singing mournfully his frustration that, despite memorizing stories and carols, he could not make sense of any of it. I, too, have done that--do that--regularly. I often--
Um. Slight tangent, here:
I'm a man of very few secrets. I'm very open about who I am and where I'm coming from--or try to be, at least. I've never been able to understand how people can be so touchy about things that they don't want to talk about them. I have a few painful memories that I don't enjoy dwelling on, but I really have no problem talking about them one-on-one in a serious moment. I think some of them are very pertinent to who and what I am, so if someone is making an effort to get to know me, and if they're the sort of person I want to get to know, I have no problem sharing this or that tidbit that many other people would keep carefully guarded. It's just all about timing and relevance.
But, because I have no control over who reads this and no way of knowing what sort of mood readers are in, there are certain things that I don't feel comfortable blogging about, so I hereby terminate the foregoing train of thought.
--end of tangent--
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that The Nightmare before Christmas is a top-notch sort of movie that I would highly recommend to most anyone.
And, because The Corpse Bride resides in this apartment as well, I hope to love it soon, too.