Saturday, November 07, 2009

Coraline (2009)

Some critics have argued that this is way too scary for children, but I recall being the sort of kid who was constantly imagining — and dreaming about — alternative worlds (not all of them especially 'normal'), so in this case I imagine I would have been really thrilled by Coraline.

I can't be alone because much of children's literature feeds of this urge to seek out hidden worlds. This movie reminded me much of Les Triplettes de Belleville (Belleville Rendez-Vous), one of V's faves from 2003, but I suspect the weirdness of that film had less traction with the kiddiz.

Anyway, Coraline Jones is an only child whose parents are perpetually busy, and not all that nice; but then neither is she. Left largely to her own devices in 'The Pink Palace Apartments' — an old wooden mansion divided into three flats of which her family has recently occupied the largest — she comes across a little wooden door in the wall which, once unlocked and at certain times only, leads to a parallel household.

In this initially brighter version of Coraline's reality her 'Other Mother' and 'Other Father' have black buttons instead of eyes. Everything she apparently lacks is supplied there, be it jumbo home-cooked meals, a plushly decorated bedroom or quality time in the fantastic garden with her father. If she will agree to having buttons sown into her own eyes, she can stay there forever...

Aside from the aesthetic and technical beauty of the artwork and animation, this is where I think the adult interest in this movie lies. Just stop for a minute and try to imagine another version of your current life where all the things you believe you would need to be properly contented are suddenly available. (I suppose I engage in a similar exercise when thinking about alternative psychologies to my own — a way of developing fictional characters who assume different attitudes and make different choices to my own...or who simply approach alternative scenarios with my own set of biases.)

What would you sacrifice to get to his place? Would you want to stay? I can see how the dream could quickly become a nightmare without direct intervention from a locus of evil such as 'Other Mother'...una telaraña de autoengaño que no requiere una araña.

Can't wait to see Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs now...

Grade: A--

1 comment:

Adina said...

My fifth grade girls particularly like this book.