I know it’s April but this is something that’s been on my mind for a while now.
In my book, a Christmas film needs four components to make itself a traditional favourite. Those four things are lovable characters, beautiful settings, mesmerizing music and a story you want to come back to year after year without fail. Anyone will tell you that their favourite Christmas movie has all these things. I know mine does. My favourite Christmas film is Edward Scissorhands.
Tim Burton is a director usually synonymous with Halloween, thanks to his gothic style but anytime I watch one of his movies, I’m always instantly taken to Christmas time. In his unconventional way, Burton makes the perfect Christmas films. Using the four requirements, here’s how Tim Burton is the quintessential Christmas filmmaker:
Snow. Tim Burton uses it in ninety percent of his films. From Jack Skellington awing over a snowflake to Edward carving angels out of ice to make the stuff to dance in. Movies such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sleepy Hollow never once mention the festive holiday but Burton coats the sets with snow to give off a wintery atmosphere and it instantly brings the thought of Christmas approaching to our minds.
Honestly, is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Batman? A Batman Christmas movie? Burton just knows how to make people happy! Burton’s original characters also make quite the impact. Edward Scissorhands barely speaks throughout the film but with Burton’s original idea and Johnny Depp’s talent to bring it to screen, it’s hard not to fall in love with the creation. Of course, who could forget the singing skeleton: Jack Skellington? How can a ‘Sandy Klaws’ costume make a skeleton look endearing? And okay, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory belongs to Roald Dahl and alright, we’ll probably be watching Gene Wilder and the orange Oompa-Loompas on RTE this Christmas but I have to say, no matter your opinion on Wonkas or the little men, Freddie Highmore is a much more likable Charlie.
Tim Burton’s long time collaborator Danny Elfman is the master at making music that just belongs to Christmas. There’s the obvious example in The Nightmare Before Christmas in which Elfman wrote and scored the songs, not to mention was Jack Skellington’s singing voice in the movie. One of the most popular songs in the movie is What’s This which features Jack Skellington running around, spellbound at the wonder of the Christmas. Once again, I’m going to creep my old favourite in there but honestly, who isn’t mesmerized when Kim dances among the shards of ice from Edward’s sculpture to Elfman’s Ice Dance?
Whatever you can say about Tim Burton, the guy is a good storyteller. He created such amazing concepts such as Halloween and Christmas town, a zombie bride being somehow a beautiful character, a silent, scissored hand character with the wonderful qualities of your favourite childhood pet and he revived Batman successfully before Chris Nolan ever did, albeit in a much more comical fashion but hey, at least the nippled batsuit wasn’t his idea! Burton is always able to write magic into his stories and isn’t that what Christmas stories are all about? They bring you to a place where you could go as a child and can still go as an adult. It’s isn’t just all about Santa and his reindeer, it’s about watching something that makes you feel warm during the cold.
Tim Burton is a wonderful director and can always transport his audience to different worlds. For me, it just always happens to be Christmas there.