As a child, Tim Burton enjoyed the Christmas specials that aired on television every year. I couldn’t miss it Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer (1964), animated film Stop the movement which tells the origins of Rudolph, Santa’s faithful reindeer How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), the animated adaptation of the popular Dr. Seuss book about the greenish creature who longs to eradicate the season’s festive spirit. Both titles served as a source of inspiration for Burton and some time later he invented the story of a friendly but monstrous creature, somewhat scary like the Grinch, but with completely opposite motivations. In The strange world of JackThe title character doesn’t hate Christmas, but loves it and wants to be a part of it.
In the 1980s, Tim Burton, a twenty-something, created countless sketches and illustrations for what would become The strange world of Jack. At the time, the talented animator was working for Disney and had helped produce titles such as: The Fox and the Hound (1981) and tron (1982). Furthermore, the trust placed in Burton led the Mouse House itself to take the risk of producing some of his first projects as a director, such as the dark short film Vincent (1982) and the bizarre television special Hansel and Gretel (1983).
However, when Burton introduced the full version of Frankenweenie (1984), the company’s executives, who had apparently expected something more conventional for children, found the short film unimaginable and a waste of money. As a result, the filmmaker was fired and his entire proposal for The strange world of Jack – which Disney owned the property rights to – ended up on the shelf for more than five years.
The return of the prodigal son
“You have a project of mine that I’m still interested in developing,” Tim Burton told Disney in the early 1990s as part of his triumphant return to the company that had previously dared to despise him but now respected him with great respect considered respect. Within five years, the Burbank, California native directed three successful feature films Live action for Warner Bros. Pictures, including the box office phenomenon Batman (1989) with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
There was still some distrust on Disney’s part about associating the filmmaker’s eccentric style with the brand’s other animated films; exactly for this reason The strange world of Jack The film was eventually released under the Touchstone Pictures label, a division aimed more at an adult audience. But since Burton was the director at the time, the Mouse House immediately knew they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with him again, and so they agreed to bring their unusual mix of Halloween and Christmas to the big screen bring.
On the other hand, it is known – or perhaps not so well known – that Burton didn’t actually direct the film starring Jack Skellington. His commitment to filming Batman returns (1992), followed by pre-production of the biopic Ed Wood (1994) prevented him from taking the lead role in a production Stop the movement lasting three years. Although he remained very involved in the conceptual part of the story and the characters, he decided to entrust the project Henry Selickan animator he knew from his training at Disney and who at the time was dedicated to creating promotional trailers and MTV spots with animation Stop the movement.
The strange world of Jack was intended to be the feature film debut of someone who would later direct the equally revered film Jim and the Giant Peach (1996) and Coraline (2009).
How long did it take to make? The strange world of Jack?
The story of the Pumpkin King, who discovers Christmas and sets out to bring it to Halloween land, originated as an original poem by Tim Burton, which he himself wanted to adapt into a 20-minute short film narrated by his idol Vincent Price . The certainty that Burton had since then, and that he maintained for a decade, was that if The nightmare before Christmas (title of the original text) was transferred to the audiovisual format, it had to go through the Stop motion. Before his break with Disney in the 1980s, the filmmaker even created some character models with the help of designer Richard Heinrichs, who eventually served as visual consultant for the ’90s film.
Production began in July 1991 The strange world of Jack The move took place entirely on the premises of Skellington Productions, based in San Francisco, California. The move gave Henry Selick 19 stages on which to assemble the 230 sets required for the film and where 13 animators and one met. staff consisting of more than 100 people. In total, around 200 articulated puppets were made, including duplicates of each figure. It took three years and the final cut included 109,440 images.
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“The other side of the coin is that it was important to me to stay out of Los Angeles,” Selick said Los Angeles Times in 1993. “I think if Disney and even Tim had had too much access to us, they would have gotten too nervous and hindered the work.”
The New Jersey-born director later noted that Burton, in his role as producer, visited San Francisco to check on filming progress, if at all, only five times in two years. Surely The strange world of Jack Without “Tim’s brilliance and ideas,” as Selick said, it wouldn’t have been a particularly memorable feature film The New York Times in 2023, but we must also not forget that it was the latter who led the production team in solving such visually and aurally captivating sequences.
The finishing touch
One of the greatest technical contributions to The strange world of Jack came from the cameraman Pete Kozachik, credited with designing physical supports and computer connections that allowed for careful control and a greater range of possibilities in terms of camera movements programmed using a computer. The novel mechanism, for example, made it possible to carry out travel or more complex panning shots that have never been seen in other productions Stop the movement. “This made the film very cinematic.” in the words of Henry Selick.
Curiously, Kozachik also worked as a visual effects supervisor and was one of the creatives of The strange world of Jack which received an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. That was the only Oscar this film ran for and lost to Jurassic Park.
Another element that made this “Nightmare Before Christmas” memorable was the scores Danny Elfman, who has since claimed to be Tim Burton’s main composer. In pre-production, Elfman crafted much of the film’s lyrics and melodies, relying only on scene descriptions and a few sketches shown to him by the producer as reference. At the end is the plot of The strange world of Jack It seemed to be driven more by its ten-plus songs than the script and dialogues.
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“If you ask Danny Elfman, it’s his movie,” Henry Selick agreed in 2022 AV Club. “When we finished the film, it was so funny because he came up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Henry, you illustrated my songs beautifully!'”
Caroline Thompson, who became the lead screenwriter, joined the project late, when the animation work was already in development. But even though it didn’t seem like there was much left to do, Thompson had (among other things) the very important task of writing the character of Sally and giving her the rebellious and hopeful quality that defines her.
With an estimated budget of $18 million, The strange world of Jack The film was released in US theaters in October 1993 and saw several re-releases over the next three decades. Currently, Tim Burton’s Christmas Carol, brought to the screen by Henry Selick, has grossed $101 million worldwide and is a must-see for Halloween…or Christmas?
Where can you see the film? The strange world of Jack?
The strange world of Jack is available on Disney Plus. The film will be re-released in Mexican cinemas starting November 16, 2023. Find out more details HERE.
You can purchase the film on BD/DVD via Amazon by clicking HERE.