I’ll respond to that with a . . . maybe.
The basic theory goes that all of Tim Burton’s animated movies are connected. More specifically, all the animated movies tell the story of one boy and his dog. My idea for this blog post happened due to this picture:
Time to take matters into my own hands. *Cracks knuckles*
Now, before we begin, this is a long theory, and it requires a long explanation to get it all out, so be prepared to sit back with a Jack Skellington coffee mug and tie your brain into knots. Though, if you’ve ever read the Pixar Theory in full, I think we can all forgive this theory for its length. Ha.
For those of you who don’t want to read through this entire thing (perfectly understandable), here’s my theory in short:
Abercrombie = Sparky = Scraps = Zero
Victor Frankenstein = Victor Van Dort = Jack Skellington
For those of you wondering what the heck I just meant by that, or if you’re wondering how on Earth any of this works, read on.
So, to the scheming! Zero, light the way!
The Puzzle Pieces
1. The short film Vincent from 1982.
2. The 2012 remake of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie
3. The Corpse Bride
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Vincent (1982): Film Summary
*Cue dramatic bell ringing and a great piano riff*
The Theory: Part 1
Who adopts Abercrombie?
The young Victor Frankenstein from Frankenweenie, of course.
Upon adopting Abercrombie, Victor renames the dog Sparky, which leads us to . . .
Frankenweenie (2012): Film Summary
Heartbroken over the loss of his dog, Victor is inspired to resurrect Sparky by his science teacher’s experiment on the effect of electricity on dead frogs. After digging up Sparky’s corpse from the pet cemetery, Victor succeeds in reanimated Sparky with lightning. By the end of the movie, Victor’s scientific feat has created a bit of a mess. Reanimated pets are roaming everywhere and monsters are attacking the science fair. The climax of the film leads to a final confrontation on a windmill, where Sparky, upon defeating the last of the monsters, is killed once again as the windmill collapses. To honor Sparky’s bravery, the townspeople reward the dog by gathering around and reanimating him again with their car batteries.
The Theory: Part 2
The main argument against this theory is the timeline to all these films. But here’s the thing. The film Frankenweenie, like all Tim Burton films, takes place in an ambiguous time period. However, based on the aesthetics of the film, we can tenuously place the time period of Frankenweenie at some time in the 1950s.
Cue the Van Dorts from Corpse Bride. The Van Dorts adopt Victor as their son, and Victor Frankenstein becomes Victor Van Dort, the protagonist of Corpse Bride. And, keep this as an important note, with Victor receiving a new name, a new life, and becoming part of a new family, it would only be fitting to give his beloved dog a similar change. So as Victor Frankenstein becomes Victor Van Dort, Victor gives Sparky his new name as well. And Sparky’s new name is?
This leads us into The Corpse Bride.
The Corpse Bride: Film Summary
Victor proceeds to faint.
And really, who can blame him?
The Theory: Part 3
As for Scraps, because Victor and Scraps had such a close bond, it is easy to see how Scraps would have unfinished business. He wouldn’t be able to peacefully pass on without his best friend and master, Victor, right? Of course not. So Scraps dies and lives as a skeleton in the Land of the Dead. Scraps is briefly reunited with Victor in the Land of the Dead, but as we know, Victor returns to the Land of the Living afterward, so Scraps is still left with his unfinished business and would therefore still be a skeleton in the Land of the Dead.
Fast forward years later to Victor becoming an old man. Nature takes its course, and he dies.
Except he doesn’t. Not completely.
Think about all Victor has been through up until now. He’s played with reanimating the dead, traveled back in time, got dragged into the Land of the Dead, and managed to crawl back out and live the rest of his life. Except here’s the catch. Victor was alive in the Land of the Dead. Quite simply, you can’t do that. How did he get to the Land of the Dead in the first place? Presumably Emily dragged him there. So a living soul was taken into the realm of the dead. Wouldn’t that have a huge effect on his soul? How does a living soul stay living in the realm of the dead?
Maybe it didn’t. Not completely.
Here’s the theory. When Victor reaches the end of his natural life and dies, a bit of confusion happens in his soul. His soul already traveled to the Land of the Dead, got ripped back to the Land of the Living, and is now trying to travel back to the Land of the Dead? The duality of this could very easily prevent entry to one state or the other. The confusion this causes could result in Victor’s soul being lost. Neither living, nor dead, Victor’s soul wanders aimlessly, unable to enter the final afterlife (which is wherever Emily went: heaven?) and unable to enter the Land of the Dead.
So here’s where I go all folklore in order to make this work. Stories of mystical holiday leaders being associated with the dead are more common than one would think. I’ll use more modern examples for clarity's sake.
In the Tim Allen 1994 movie The Santa Clause, Tim Allen becomes Santa Clause after literally killing the former Santa Clause by causing him to fall off his roof.
Sort of dark when you think about it . . .
While Tim Allen himself is not dead, in order to become Santa Clause, a death does have to occur.
Now to take things even more modern, I present The Rise of the Guardians.
So going back to Victor, he has died, but he’s trapped, unable to enter the final afterlife and unable to enter the Land of the Dead. But, via other stories we just examined, there are other afterlife possibilities, and even job descriptions that come with them, all of them seeming to pertain loosely to, or directly to, the various holidays of the world. And what better job and holiday for a man’s soul who encountered the Land of the Dead, learned how to reanimate the dead, and understands both the beauty and heartbreak of the macabre?
We still have Scraps to deal with.
As we previously established, Scraps has been waiting in the Land of the Dead with unfinished business for his master, Victor. Scraps cannot pass on until Victor does. When Victor does die, Scraps is freed from the Land of the Dead. However, similar to the confusion that happened in Victor’s soul, Scraps' soul has also had a bit of a journey. He died on three separate occasions, two of which were unnaturally cut off by the reanimation process. This finally passing on just can’t come to pass, so Scraps winds up in the same place as Victor’s soul. Victor, now Jack Skellington, discovers Scraps in the cemetery of Halloween Town. This time, they are reunited forever, and per tradition, with Victor now renamed Jack Skellington, Scraps receives his final name change. His new name is, you guessed it, Zero.
And there we have the start of a legend and what would eventually become The Nightmare Before Christmas.
· Zero’s glowing nose could be an echo of his past life as Sparky and the whole lightning reanimation experiment.
· In order to get the reindeer skeletons to animate and fly the coffin-sleigh in Halloween Town, Dr. Finkelstein uses lightning in a similar way to Victor Frankenstein’s reanimation of Sparky. Maybe Jack told him how to do it? Hmm.
· If you’re wondering why Jack doesn’t know what Christmas is despite being Victor in a past life (who would obviously know what Christmas is), the only way I can explain this away is Jack gets so obsessed with Halloween and does lose aspects of his past as Victor, that he forgets about the other holidays and has to rediscover aspects of the Land of the Living. We really have no idea how long Jack has been the Pumpkin King at the start of Nightmare, but based on “Jack’s Lament”, it is easy to discern he’s been doing this for a long, long, long time. Hence his boredom and the personality of shy, timid Victor being all but gone now. Being king gave him a confidence boost, I imagine, ha.
· Sally could be a part of all this, too. Victor’s love interest, Victoria, in Corpse Bride could have possessed the rag doll body and assumed the identity of Sally when Dr. Finkelstein created the doll. This explains Sally’s unique personality, her difference from the other members of Halloween Town, and her love for Jack right from the start. Jack and Sally’s kiss at the end could be Jack recognizing his old love from his past life as Victor, thus him realizing they were “simply meant to be.” Aww.
The End: Finally
Abercrombie = Sparky = Scraps = Zero
Victor Frankenstein = Victor Van Dort = Jack Skellington
For those of you who made it to the end of this, I sincerely applaud you. Because that was a lot.
And, as a final endnote, I’m not at all saying any of this is true. It’s just a theory, and it’s something fun to think about.
So have fun discussing it, and tell me what you all think. Is everyone’s mind blown? Are there things I didn’t cover? Or is this theory filled with as many holes as a slice of Swish cheese?
Post it all down in the comments below.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
(*Sigh* I wrote this in July.)