Coraline: Curiosity Killed the Cat

Josh M (Year 12), Chief Contributor

The 2009 stop-motion film, Coraline, directed by Henry Selick, was based off the novel by Neil Gaiman. The movie tells the story of Coraline Jones, a curious and adventurous young girl who moves with her parents to a new house in the countryside. There, she discovers a hidden door that leads to a parallel world where everything seems perfect, but soon finds out that the perfect world is not what it seems. 

One of the most notable features of Coraline is its unique and stunning visual style. The movie was filmed using stop-motion animation, which involves taking individual frames of a scene, moving the characters slightly, and then taking another frame. These frames are then put together to create the illusion of movement. The meticulous attention to detail in every aspect of the movie is astounding, from the intricate sets to the delicate movements of the characters. 

The use of stop-motion animation was a deliberate choice by Selick and his team to bring Gaiman’s fantastical and eerie story to life. The handcrafted feel of the movie gives it a tactile quality that sets it apart from other animated films. The use of practical effects and real props creates a sense of depth and texture that draws the viewer into the world of Coraline. 

In addition to its stunning visuals, Coraline is notable for its nuanced and complex characters. Coraline is a relatable protagonist, with an overpowering desire for adventure and a prominent frustration experienced with her parents’ lack of attention. She is brave and resourceful, but also vulnerable and afraid. Her interactions with the other characters in the story, both in the real world and in the alternate world, reveal her strengths and weaknesses, ultimately helping her grow as a person. 

The supporting cast of characters in Coraline are just as memorable. There is the mysterious and enigmatic Cat, who serves as Coraline’s guide through the alternate world. The Other Mother, who appears to be a perfect facsimile of Coraline’s real mother, is both alluring and terrifying. And the eccentric and quirky inhabitants of the alternate world, including the Other Father and the three ghostly children, add further depth to the story. 

The themes of Coraline are also complex and multi-layered. On the surface, the movie is a cautionary tale about the dangers of wish fulfilment and the importance of appreciating what you have. The alternate world that Coraline discovers seems perfect at first, with its lavish feasts, exciting games, and endless entertainment. But as Coraline delves deeper into this world, she discovers that it is a trap and that the Other Mother has sinister intentions for her. 

But Coraline is also a story about identity and self-discovery. Coraline’s journey through the alternate world forces her to confront her fears, her flaws, and her own sense of self. In the end, it is her own strength and resilience that save her from the Other Mother’s clutches, and that allows her to appreciate the people and the life she has in the real world. 

Overall, Coraline is a masterful work of animation and storytelling. Its stunning visuals, complex characters, and multi-layered themes make it a movie that can be appreciated by audiences of all ages. Whether viewed as a cautionary tale, a coming-of-age story, or a dark and eerie fantasy, Coraline is a movie that is sure to leave a long-lasting impression after viewing.