Tim Burton’s spooky stop-animation films are instant classics, from James and the Giant Peach to The Corpse Bride. The Nightmare Before Christmas came out in 1998 and now no Halloween is complete without the Pumpkin King! But do you know about Tim Burton’s trilogy?
(Spoiler warnings for Frankenweenie, The Corpse Bride, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. If you haven’t seen them yet… WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THEY’RE AMAZING, GO WATCH THEM, IT’S SPOOKY SEASON!)
The basic idea is that Frankenweenie, The Corpse Bride, and The Nightmare Before Christmas are movies about the same character. Victor Frankenstein, Victor VanDort, and Jack Skellington are all the same man, just at different stages of life (and death).
We begin with Victor, the little boy who loves his dog so much that he just can’t let him go. He’s a bright kid, talented at science, and creative (or crazy) enough to bring Sparky howling back from the grave. Hijinks ensue.
Victor grows into a nice young man. He’s still interested in science, enough to catch and draw butterflies he finds. Being a man of science firmly rooted in reality, he’s understandably surprised when he accidentally marries a corpse. She’s nice enough, and even gives him his dog back! Scraps is a skeleton dog, the remains of Sparky from years ago. Of course, once you bring something back from the dead, that doesn’t make it immortal, so Sparky did eventually pass away, but now he’s back again! Just… without fur. After the whirlwind events of The Corpse Bride, he marries his love, Victoria, and the two of them have quite a happy life together.
But all lives end. When Victor dies, he finds himself in the dark forest where he met Emily, the Corpse Bride. He walks deep into the forest, and finds the colorful holiday doors. He chooses one with a Jack-O-Lantern on it on a whim, and finds himself in Halloween Town. As his body rots away, he reinvents himself as Skeleton Jack, The Pumpkin King of Halloween! Sparky/Scraps’ bones have long since turned to dust, and he rejoins his master in death as Zero, a ghost dog. Still being a man of science, when he stumbles on Christmas Town, he conducts experiments to find out what Christmas is really all about. He finds new love with Sally, and the rest is history.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of this theory, you have to concede that the similarities are uncanny. The infatuation with science, the name staying the same between The Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie, and the different states of the dog in all three movies are the three biggest factors that make me love this idea.
Are there problems with this theory? Yes, of course. The Corpse Bride is set in the Victorian Era, and Frankenweenie is set in the present, for example. I would argue that the timeline is the least unrealistic aspect of the whole thing, given that we’re accepting that the dead can walk the earth and a little boy can shock his dog back to life, but okay.
Truly, the side details don’t matter so much. Whether or not it’s linear, this could very easily be the same character in different timelines, like alternate universes. Tim Burton and Co. could very easily have created different worlds around the same character.
Whether or not you subscribe to this theory is up to you! It’s not been officially confirmed or denied. Either way, all three of these movies are amazing and are must-sees this spooky season! Who’s up for a movie night?
(Gifs courtesy of giphy.com, image courtesy of knowyourmeme.com.)