In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington has a longing for something different than the world he’s used to. He wants to find new meaning for his life, but he’s looking in the wrong places. In this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast we discuss these Christian themes and how to use this film to share Jesus with your friends.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:03:23 – Movie Discussion 
  • 00:58:20 – Listener Feedback
  • 01:03:50 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:12:20 – Lightning Round 
  • 01:17:23 – Upcoming

Longing for Meaning in Halloween Town

Jack Skellington has grown tired of Halloween. He’s the best at putting on the facade of the Pumpkin King, but deep down, he knows there’s something more to life and that it’s not in Halloween Town. That’s why he goes searching in the woods at the beginning of the film, and that’s why he ends up at the nexus of those holiday worlds.

And as he stumbles upon Christmas Town, he is given a glimpse into what this holiday business could really be like. He feels the warmth that’s coming from inside the houses of Christmas Town and is so affected by that warmth that he wants to share it with his friends back home. That alone would be enough to illustrate how evangelism is supposed to work, but something just isn’t right.

This image from NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS shows the citizens of Halloween Town at the town meeting.

Sure, Jack himself is on fire for hijacking Christmas, but he fails when he tries to share his conviction with the public at the town meeting. The townspeople don’t feel the same about Christmas as Jack does. Thus they do not have that common ground of love needed for progress. Jack’s fatal flaw, then, is to continue remaking Christmas even though he knows that he and the townspeople aren’t on the same level.

As he continues his plans, things start falling apart. The kids receiving their Halloweenish presents are frightened instead of comforted, and the warm feeling he wanted to share has turned cold. Then because of his actions, Jack becomes a public enemy as the armed forces proceed to shoot him down from the sky. Thankfully, after he’s landed in the arms of an concrete angel in a graveyard, he comes to his senses, realizes his mistake, and sets forth to right his wrongdoing.

This image from NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS shows Jack and Sally.

When he gets back to Halloween Town, he is confronted by Mr. Oogie Boogie, who has captured Sally and Santa Claus. Jack puts up a fight decent enough to vanquish Mr. Oogie Boogie, free Sally, and release Santa so he can save Christmas. And in the final moments, Jack finally realizes that everything he had longed for in the beginning was with Sally all along.

This hearkens back to that as which the Teacher in Ecclesiastes spoke as “fleeting” (most commonly and most erroneously translated as “vanity” and “meaningless). The word, hebel, doesn’t mean something is useless because it has a short life span. Instead, it means that it is only beautiful because it will not last forever. Just like Christmas, just like Halloween, just like Sally, and just like Jack himself.

Key Texts

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion:Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a way to use good stories to soften people's hearts.
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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys! Personally, I like The Nightmare Before Christmas, but don’t love it. My older son loved it as a young child, so I have nostalgia for it in that regard. The animation is outstanding, and the 76 minute run time is a saving grace. There were some genuinely funny moments for me, particularly the gruesome gifts Jack passed out in Christmas Town, which shines a light on my twisted sense of humor. One thing I get from the film harkens to 2 Timothy 3:5, which speaks of people who have a form of godliness, but deny it’s power. ( Jack’s attempt to impersonate Santa Claus and do Christmas had the outer trappings of the holiday, but lacked the substance required for an authentic Christmas experience. In much the same way, if I celebrate Christmas with lights, trees, fancy wrapping paper & gifts, and all the outer trappings, but neglect Jesus, I will have an experience hollow at it’s core, leaving me with a nagging feeling that something is wrong here, something is missing, and unfulfilled. I love Christmas time, and you wont find me complaining if decorations go out early and radio stations start playing holiday music before Thanksgiving. When it comes to Christmas, it’s the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned! Since becoming a Christian, the season has added significance and meaning, and it’s the time of year that I generally feel closest to God. Bring it on!

    Speaking of Christmas and Spotify, here’s a link to Kemper Crabb’s album, Medieval Christmas, which is a collection of medieval Christmas songs and hymns.:
    I absolutely love his work, and cannot recommend it highly enough.

    Thanks for the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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