Tim Burton depicts his idea of children on Halloween night as being evil and mischievous.
This image is of three children. The characters are animated, so it is not completely clear at first that they are wearing masks. Upon further inspection, it can be collected that they are in fact wearing halloween costumes and at least one of them has already collected a piece of halloween-colored candy. From left to right, the children dress as a devil, a skeleton, and a witch. All three choices of costumes are meant to be scary, and all three costumes include masks which cover the whole face except for the eyes. We look down on the children from the perspective of a taller person, to better analyze their character, just as we do to trick-or-treater’s on Halloween.
There are various ways in which Burton makes it visually clear that these children are maniacal and not to be trusted. First, all the children are wearing masks, in order to protect their personal identity. This also provides the opportunity for them to hide their real expressions and makes it easier for them to lie or cheat. Both the devil and the skeleton have permanent smiles which creates an air of unease and mystery. The two masks are similar in that their facial expressions are smiling and happy, showing dissimilarity to their scary costume.
Of the boys on the left, one’s eyes are not even visible, therefore making it more unclear what his intentions are. The eyes of the middle child are shifty and give the sense of being up to no good. The child dressed as a devil is stroking his chin in thought, as the middle child glances over at him with his terrifying grin. This is a clear sign from Burton that there is the beginning of a diabolical plan being dreamt up by the duo.
Meanwhile, the girl on the right is the only one who is making direct eye contact with the audience, she is the tallest of the trio, so it is safe to assume that she is the oldest and therefore holds the most authority. Her mask sports a permanent scowl, she holds her arms crossed and is turned slightly away, seemingly sizing us up in an intimidating manner. Her mask matches her body language, setting the tone for her personality which we can presume is bossy and mean.
One more thing which makes clear that Burton presumes the worst of children, specifically on Halloween, is the presence of candy in the hand of the center child. The addition of a lollipop suggests that sugar acts as the fuel which keeps the kids going on Halloween, acting as crazy and mischievous as ever.
It is plain to see that Burton created these children to seem especially evil and threatening despite their small stature.
The Nightmare Before Christmas. Dir. Burton, Tim. Touchstone Pictures, 1993. Film.
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