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Comparing and contrasting Christmas and Halloween

Through the educational film: The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton

Each new school year brings a fresh batch of new ideas: why not prepare a cinema trip with your pupils, centred around the educational film The Nightmare Before Christmas? It will be an original way of having a discourse together about the juxtaposition of two worlds – namely Christmas and Halloween – whether it be in the characters, the distinctive features of the festival or in popular culture more broadly.

An educational film with an innovative idea

At the origins of the educational film The Nightmare Before Christmas is the original screenplay by Tim Burton, Henry Selick’s directing and the soundtrack composed by Danny Elfman. Production of the film lasted 3 years, during which time a hundred artists were mobilised to design the décor and the puppets.

As a little bit of movie trivia, the educational film contains 60 characters, i.e. 60 puppets, with 3 editions of each one being made – taking the total number of individual puppets to 180. To say nothing of the 400 different heads that were made for Jack, so that he would have a wide range of facial expressions…

The story takes place in the town of Halloween, where the skeletal scarecrow Jack Skellington, nicknamed the ‘pumpkin king’, is responsible for organising the festivities each year. However, tired as he is of the annual routine, he wants to shake things up and take some inspiration from the party held in the town of Christmas

The ways in which Christmas and Halloween are represented

Among the pedagogical themes to explore in Tim Burton’s educational film, you could examine the way the two worlds collide: the world of Christmas and the world of Halloween. Depending on their pupils’ level of maturity, each teacher can take the analysis of the film to varying levels of complexity…

The characters

In the town of Christmas, the iconic characters from this celebration (Father Christmas, the reindeer, the elves…) are drawn with ample figures and a rounded profile, whereas the inhabitants of the town of Halloween are monstrous and frightening (even though they can also be likable and funny), like Jack, with his angular profile.

The symbols of Christmas and of Halloween

The background décor in Tim Burton’s educational film makes use of the indicators of each celebration: in Christmas, there are Christmas trees, a red, green and gold colour scheme, snow, lights, sugary treats, chimneys; in Halloween, we see pumpkins, the dark of night, moonlight, spiders, coffins, ghosts…

Popular culture

Around these two worlds, Tim Burton has reproduced the ideas in popular culture about these two celebrations: for Christmas, a perfect world full of festivity in which jollity and joie de vivre reign supreme; for Halloween, a hostile and grotesque world with a scary and inhuman atmosphere.

The educational film The Nightmare Before Christmas could inspire discussions about ideas of norms, normalities and exclusion with, on the one hand, a world with a well-organised social structure and, on the other, a world that’s a bit wacky. Each world has its upsides and downsides…

To organise a screening with your pupils, contact Kinepolis to get a free quote and discuss the Covid-19 measures and all other concerns.


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Par Amandine Schosseler

Kinepolis est un acteur de premier plan en Europe et possède des cinémas au Luxembourg en Belgique, France, Espagne, Suisse, Pologne et tout dernièrement au Canada. Outre son activité cinématographique, Kinepolis est également actif dans le domaine de la publicité et de l’événementiel.

Amandine accompagne les professionnels depuis juin 2013 avec comme objectif de leur fournir un suivi personnalisé à travers les solutions proposées par Kinepolis : salles de conférence, salles de séminaire, projection privée avec ou sans réception, publicité, sponsoring, …

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