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Danny Elfman: 'I wanted the music in Nightmare to feel like it could have come from any time or place'

9 Nov 2019

In the 25th anniversary year of The Nightmare Before Christmas, we speak to the composer about performing the much-loved score live

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas re-invented animated musicals for a whole new audience. In its 25th anniversary year, we talk to composer Danny Elfman about the joys and challenges of performing the score live in the UK for the first…

The Nightmare Before Christmas

  • 3 stars
  • 1993
  • US
  • 1h 16min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Henry Selick
  • Written by: Tim Burton (story), Michael McDowell (adaptation), Caroline Thompson (screenplay)
  • Cast: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Ken Page
  • UK release: 25 November 1994

Jack Skellington, the skinny trickster king of Halloweentown, is restless with success and needs a new challenge, so he hatches a plot to kidnap Santa and creates a mixed-up Yuletide which isn't quite what the kids expected. Produced and based on a story and characters by Tim Burton.


  • 1989
  • US
  • 2h 6min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Tim Burton
  • Written by: Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren
  • Cast: Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, Jack Palance

Nicholson is on top form: psychotic, witty and zanier than ever, but the real triumph is Keaton's. With less screen time than the Great Upstager, he produces a performance of memorable subtlety and power, which gives credibility to the Bruce Wayne/Batman character, while remaining true to the comic strip. With eerie…

Fifty Shades of Grey

13 Feb 20153 stars

Adaptation of EL James' sadomasochist sensation looks set to dominate cinemas

Whatever your thoughts on EL James' S&M bonkbusters they've certainly set pulses racing with their admirably frank exploration of female desire; and they've now put sex back on the big screen in a pretty emphatic fashion, with Sam Taylor-Johnson's take…

10 unmissable events happening in Edinburgh and Glasgow this December

29 Nov 2019

Highlights include Counterflows, The Lion King and Scottish Ballet: The Snow Queen

Scottish Ballet: The Snow Queen With typically stylish aplomb, Christopher Hampson choreographs a fresh take on the Hans Christian Andersen folk-tale, dubbing it as 'Hansel and Gretel in the snow'. The eponymous character might still be a mean piece of…


16 Oct 20083 stars

ANIMATION/COMEDY It’s a tough life for hunchbacked assistants of mad scientists. Igor (voiced by John Cusack) ekes out his precarious existence as humble servant to the sinister Dr Glickenstein (John Cleese), an evil genius set on winning the annual…

The music and film collaborations of Tindersticks and Claire Denis

21 Oct 2011

The creative partnership between the French director and the UK band

Just as there are actors directors consistently work with, and where the French have a term called the acteur/actrice fétiche to define this affiliation, equally there are plenty filmmakers whose relationship with their composers seem equally…

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

1 Nov 20182 stars

Disney's take on the classic fairytale is more gaudy confection than Christmas cracker

Disney's Nutcracker arrives with a "suggested by" credit, devoted to ETA Hoffmann and Marius Petipa. Further credits could have gone to Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland or Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle In Time, both parallel Disney examples of over-stylised…

Preview 2008 - Film

4 Jan 2008

I lost count of the number of times the death knell rang for the traditional Hollywood filmmaking model last year. The ongoing writers’ strike, the collapse of the star system (due to exorbitant actor salaries) and increasingly low box office returns…

The Unknown Known

13 Mar 20142 stars

Errol Morriss' examination of Donald Rumsfeld lacks nuance and depth

The veteran documentarian Errol Morris here turns his penetrating gaze upon Donald Rumsfeld, Defence Secretary under Gerald Ford and George W Bush. Comparisons are inevitable with Morris’ 2003 Oscar-winner The Fog of War, for which he interviewed…