Children are always going to misbehave. This is a fact of life. And yet, most don’t have the behavioral maturity to understand why their actions are not appropriate. What they do understand, though, is the power of the unknown. There is just enough mystery in the world that parents can use it to their advantage in order to frighten children into good habits. The main purveyor of fear among children is the Bogeyman, who is used as a warning and a threat whenever a child does something inappropriate. In general terms, the Bogeyman will come and “get” children who act out or who do socially unacceptable actions. And while adults understand that the Bogeyman is not real, the idea can still be used in fiction and is a great archetype for certain antagonists. This week’s two films highlight the Bogeyman as their main villain.
Rise of the Guardians
Length: 97 minutes / 1.61 hours
There are two sides to a child’s imagination: light and dark. While the light side is full of fun, wonder, and joy, the darkness is where we find fear, worry, and apprehension. Just like there are many imaginary beings that embody the light side of imagination, the one that seems to stick out among all others for the dark side is the Bogeyman. Usually constrained to dark, mysterious locations like closets and underneath the bed, the only way that the Bogeyman has any power is if he is perceived to be a real threat. And yet, the only way that we can give an idea any power over us is if we believe in it. If we believe in the Bogeyman, he has the ability to terrify us, but if we do not believe, he can do nothing. Just like Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight saga, “If you devote yourself to an ideal . . . you become something else entirely . . . a legend.”
Pitch Black (Jude Law), also known as the Bogeyman, has been building his forces. Many centuries ago, the Immortal Guardians of the children of the world thought that they sealed him away and that was the end of it. And yet, when he appears at the North Pole, he causes Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin) to send out an alarm to the other guardians. When Sandman, the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) are gathered together, they learn that they must call on the assistance of a new guardian: Jack Frost (Chris Pine). However, Pitch sees much of himself in the nominated guardian and tries to corrupt Jack’s mind and uses the naïveté of the ice spirit to his advantage. One by one, Pitch starts picking off the guardians, eliminating the children’s hope in them and in turn gaining the power needed to finally defeat them.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Length: 76 minutes / 1.26 hours
Since one of the main emotions toward darkness is fear, it is no wonder that the Bogeyman would be associated with the one holiday that is most often associated with this emotion: Halloween. On All Hallow’s Eve, the whole point of the holiday is to frighten others. Sure, there’s more nuance to it than that, but at the base of the event, everyone is meant to be scared. Now, where do most of our fears begin? Most of the time, we have traumatic experiences that shape our psyche and help determine what we are afraid of. These experiences oftentimes occur when we are children. And as children, as I have mentioned before, we are able to cope with the unseen by putting a physical form to it. The Bogeyman is the physical form of our fears and is often capitalized upon in order to heighten terror in children.
In the parallel universe of holiday worlds, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) rules over the Halloween world as the Pumpkin King. Unfortunately, his boredom causes him to venture out into the forest surrounding his world. There he finds a portal to Christmas world and thus decides to adopt another holiday to satiate his boredom. Unfortunately, in order to take over Christmas, he needs to get rid of its current figurehead: Santa Claus (Edward Ivory). While Jack only wants to keep “Sandy Claws” out of the way, the three minions he has given the task of kidnapping the jolly red elf are really working for the Oogie Boogie Man (Ken Page). As a result, Santa was (eventually) kidnapped, but the canvassed cretin wants to get rid of Santa completely, which means that Jack must succeed in taking over Christmas, or there will never be another Christmas again.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Bogeyman breakdowns