The fact that Coraline was a novel after all was embittering. I wanted to envisage Coraline Jones before I see Henry Selick’s vision of her, to read carefully what Neil Gaiman said about her, unbutton my imagining eyes and stitch it, needle-knit it, fill it with his descriptions and my wannabes and create a Coraline that is particular to myself. But since watching the novel screened has become a fait accompli, I tried to tick away my conservatism. The real world and the other world are each other’s opposites with one glossier, the other glossless but what if it is not gratis? The rebellious Dakota (Fanning, Dakota) is the heroine voicer.
The film’s preamble is not as pinkish as the Palace Apartments. The cat’s sudden appearance forces a shudder that is informative of the animation’s lurid milieu. Coraline pushes her way into the forest with her y-shaped dowsing rod searching for the water-well, then we’re startled by the horridly-masked Wyborne who turns out to be the owner of the cat; he walks off as his granny echoingly calls… awe-inspiring, eh? The next day the boy sends her a doll; Coraline’s ditto. Such a thing should be adoed, even if her parents are very busy in their garden catalog, but it wasn’t. In her rush, her mother forgets to lock the little door she opened to satiate the curiosity of her daughter… she wants her Coraline to be “zipped”. The doll spies on the flaws in Coraline’s life; mainly negligence from her parent’s part and “boredom”. The fact that Coraline is being treated as a “chopped liver” makes the other world to which the little door is leading inviting. It is everything the real world is not; the other mother is a spate of kindess, she cooks, loves rain and mud “mud facials, mud baths, mud pies”. The garden shaping Coraline’s name; the beet-loving Mr. Bob who have sent for a new kind of cheese hoping to tame his dancing mice to a new tune, has actually tamed them; the heavy weights Ms Spink and Forcible who read her tea leaves and prognosticated of “slings and arrows” to Caroline (misspelled as always by them despite correction) weren’t retired too, and they are a svelte version of themselves. Boredom which exists in the real world with all it’s derivatives, mainly its adjective, does not exist in the other. The buttoned Daddy sings to Coraline: “When she comes around exploring
Mom and I will never ever make it boring”. Mr. Bob behests her “You just go home and be bored and neglected, same as always. Stay here with us. We will listen to you, and laugh with you.” After the theatre wonder where Coraline was actually blithely airborne with the gymnasts, the other mother, thinking that Coraline could buy into this type of hype, is now pushing the envelope. She gives her Coraline the legendary box of buttons, black buttons, because “black is traditional”. But Coraline is contumacious. She takes her leave to her bedroom, thinking that she could sleep but she couldn’t. She tries to find her escape, then she finds the cat. Reminiscent of Lewis Caroll’s, the cat appears and disappears all along the film. Together they walk away from the Palace to soon find themselves walking to it “how can you walk away from something and then come towards it?”. Interesting. We learn that the other mother hates cats and here it’s noteworthy to mention that the cat is the only creature in the film who has no other ” I’m not the other anything. I’m me.” But why the cat alone? This fact was not explicated.
So they’re in the Palace again. Coraline tries to make her escape but the Other Mother is already there. She gracefully and unflaggingly states that “even the proudest of spirits can be broken by love”. Yet, appalled from Coraline’s s dour stance, she starts to transform into a skinnier, taller, spider-like gruesome hag. She locks Coraline in a little room as a punishment where the latter finds the three ghost children who subdued long ago and let her sew their eyes into buttons. They tell her how they were misled by her ploys, “tricks and treats”. They refer to her as “the beldam”. Later, too, when Coraline administers to go to her place, she finds that the beldam has kidnapped her parents. She decided to go for the gauntlet, goes to Ms. Spink and Forcible who gave her a green thing that can help her in finding lost objects. She finds her buttoned mother in the kitchen, cooking as usual. The cat has told her that her buttoned mother “has a thing for games”, so she suggests that she plays a game; to find the children’s eyes and her parents and this will make her a winner. If she loses, she’ll be hers and let her now-cranial mother “love” her forever. The clue was that the eye balls she’ll find in each of the wonders she made to her but she refrained from telling her about her parents. With the help of the cat, she managed to find the three eye balls. When the final showdown came at last, she could find her parents in the “Detroit Zoo” snowglobe. Mmmm… snowglobes. Don’t they hold miniatures of things bigger, too? She humbugs the Other Mother, refuses to give her the eye balls, and deludes her into opening the little door. Everything is turned into a cobweb, like a booby-trap. The other mother’s arachnid hand is pulverized but that’s not it.
Now, after watching the film, mulling it over for a moment, you discover the reason why you loved it so much; you loved Coraline. The girl is very peculiar, what’s with her littleness and her mettle; her haughty nose with it’s tiltness upward; her blue hair and her indefatigable affirmation of her name even though all except the rats (and her parents, of course) are insistent in their wrong appellation. She is a “grown-up” with that capacity of grown-ups to feel boredom and sadness and her transcenedence beyond buying her reality, her parents and her “sight” for conconcted wonders.
The unbelievably tall Mr. Bobinsky and his other, and the heavyset Ms. Spink and Forcible and their others are obviously the barrel of monkeys. Their “eccentricity” is amusing. Mr. B speaks Russian and it makes him more appealing (why the author chose Russian, that we know not of). The actresses’ British is, for no realistic reason, hilarious. Their drolleries in their Other forms are just fantastic; the other Mr. B’s rosy catapults of cotton candy, his nice mice, the other Spink and Forcible’s theatre of dogs.
The music is full of marvels too. It simply speaks of the film; on it’s behalf and/or with it. The nonsense languages makes sense, and the childish voices create a wild sussuration that tickles. You listen from here, and you embark on wonders; beds with floating butterflies that go around you once you enter; little doors and narrow purplish passageways; the opportunity to be ticked in bed in order to go from one world to another; how infinitely beautiful! And imagine having off-their-gourd neighbors like the flexible Mr. Bob and the famed S and F. The soup train and the garden shaped on your name.. all, all are aloud in the music.
The film involved the efforts of 450 people including 30 to 35 animators and digital designers. Thanks to them, I could dream again. Not that I couldn’t dream before, but it lacked that cherubic, seraphic, bluish tinge. Recommended? Yes, recommended. But for those who are careful what they wish for. * winking*