A cut epilogue from The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack reveals what happens to Jack and Sally after the cult movie comes to a close.
A cut epilogue from The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack reveals what happens to Jack and Sally after the cult movie comes to an end. While The Nightmare Before Christmas is often attributed to Tim Burton (who wrote the poem on which the film was based), it was actually directed by Henry Selick (of Coraline fame) and is fondly remembered for its gothic style and composer Danny Elfman’s award-winning soundtrack. While a moderate success on initial release, the film’s popularity skyrocketed in the following years; its characters and iconography plastered on everything from t-shirts to shot glasses, providing Hot Topic with enough stock to last from now until the end of time.
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Riffing on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and other holiday classics, The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin king of Halloween Town, who – upon discovering Christmas Town – decides to claim the jolly holiday as his own, and almost inadvertently causes its demise. Throughout the film, Jack swoons over Sally, a rag-doll zombie, and the story ends with the Halloween couple declaring their love for one another atop a hill.
While Selick and co. have yet to produce a Nightmare Before Christmas sequel, an additional track on the soundtrack album reveals what happened to Jack and Sally after the events of the hit movie. The album’s penultimate track, “Closing”, is narrated by Patrick Stewart and details how his unseen character re-visits Jack and Sally many years later, revealing that they have “four or five” skeleton children who play in a xylophone band. The Narrator asks Jack whether he remembers the night when he almost destroyed Christmas, and whether he would relive those events, all over again, knowing what he knows now – to which, Jack replies coyly, “Wouldn’t you?” Nightmare Before Christmas 2 is, in effect, the original Nightmare Before Christmas.
Now, aside from the obvious question (how can a Frankenstein-type creature and a literal skeleton reproduce?), one has to wonder why Selick and his team didn’t use this epilogue narration? As it stands, the ending of the film is very hopeful and forward-looking, with Jack and Sally finally getting together, while the cut epilogue is more reflective and almost bittersweet. This likely played into their creative decision to cut the closing narration, though – in gaining a more forward-facing ending – they ended up losing the cyclical structure utilized in many great holiday stories.
The epilogue references the beginning of the story, bringing The Nightmare Before Christmas full-circle, with Jack reflecting on the films’ events in hindsight and asserting that, if he could live it all again, he wouldn’t change a thing. This prompts the audience to re-watch the film, and would further cement it as an annual viewing tradition – along the lines of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, or Jon Favreau’s modern classic Elf. That said, The Nightmare Before Christmas is hardly underrated – a good thing, given the amount of work and care that went into its creation – so the romantic ending must have paid off for many viewers, cementing the film as a perennial Christmas… Halloween… Thanksgiving classic, that looks to the year ahead with a hopeful eye.
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