Henry Selick is by far one of my favourite directors despite him having so few films. In the industry he is the go to man for stop-motion animation using puppets. Not only did he direct the first feature length film made fully out of incredible hand made sets and puppets (the nightmare before Christmas) but he also selflessly shares his gift with hundreds of students at the California school of arts where he sometimes lectures.
The first film I ever watched with my full attention was the nightmare before Christmas and to this day it remains to be one of my favourite films. However, after Selick brought one of Gaiman’s books to the screen I have found a new favourite. I read Coraline when I was in my early teens around about the same time I found out it was going to be a film and I loved it, in fact I loved it so much that I bought the graphic novel immediately after finishing the book so I think it is safe to say I was a little excited for the film to be released.
When the film came out there were obvious differences between the book and the film and I think all of then were necessary to drive the film along. In the book Coraline and her parents move in to a new mysterious house and after some investigating and talking to her wacky and wonderful neighbours Coraline finds a tiny door that leads her back to…her house! As she adventurously walks through the house she is relieved to find her mother, until she notices something unusual about her eyes…they are buttons! This woman claims to be Coraline’s other mother and that everyone has one, but she is really plotting to steal Coraline’s soul. The rest of the book is Coraline escaping the grasp of her other mother. The film has the same basic plot, but adds a friend for Coraline, Wybie who has a huge part in the plot and helps drive the story along.
Now back to the film. The best thing about Coraline has to be the set design. The colours in the film are dull and lifeless which is exactly how Coraline views it. In general the whole town feels believable with the fact that humans have little care for the incredible architecture that fills the streets. The design of the characters felt very up to date and original with an authentic charm which really added to the feel of the film. When Coraline enters this other world things become colourful because she finally feels a sense of happiness and adventure, however later on there is a distinct lack of colour to show that this world never existed and makes Coraline realise that the original dull and colourless world should make her happy too because it has the people she loves.
The storyline is exciting with a twist at every turn and a whole lot of adventure. There really isn’t a dull moment in the film because we always have Coraline to add a bit of excitement and fun. Adding Wybie was the best thing about the storyline because with out him the film would have felt very long and confusing. He is the equivalent to the doctors companion in this film where he needs things spelled out for him but really, it’s just to keep the audience up to date with the events and ideas in the film.
The soundtrack to Coraline is creepy, really creepy but it really fits the themes and feeling of the film. Bruno Coulais wrote the music and took many different elements to help the audience get a term for the scene. The most prominent of these elements being an all girls choir. They give off the creepiest chant like singing I have ever heard and that really impresses me and makes the film a lot more believable.
Coraline was Henry Selick’s masterpiece. It felt like he was destined to make this film, and it paid off so well! Coraline is definitely better than The Nightmare Before Christmas in the sense of animation and storyline, I think experience definitely faired Henry Selick well.