Ana g. valdes

Eyes symbolizes the soul and protection in many cultures; I’ve never liked the idea of getting a button on my eyes.

Coraline is a 2009 stop-motion animation dark fantasy horror film, written and directed by Henry Selick and based on the children’s book by Neil Gaiman. The story follows a girl called Coraline who finds a mysterious and vibrant world in her new home. This world was created by a button-eyed doppelganger of her mother also known as the “Other mother”. But when the other mother tries to convince Coraline to sew buttons in her eyes so she stays there forever, Coraline realizes that this world was nothing more than a trap. At its core, Coraline is a story about manipulation and courage. Coraline is given access to a perfect world that’s been curated specifically for her only. The Other Mother does everything her real mother doesn’t and created this utopian home for the sole purpose to convince Coraline to stay there forever. The Other Mother is a beldam, meaning she is a demonic, shape-shifting entity who lures children into another dimension with the goal of consuming their flesh and taking their souls. Her true sinister form is later revealed to be a lookalike to a skeleton/arachnid form. She’s basically a witch.

Coraline is almost persuaded by the other mother’s manipulation but eventually sees past the other mother’s tricks. 

The film  sets  the mood for autumn and winter. It has cool and vibrant colors to go with it.  The concept of the character design is mostly to do with the watercolor scheme palette which makes the characters pop, especially the clothing that they wear throughout the film. Most of the clothes are gloomy but yet there’s always a hint of high color. 

The film seems to have its own message of the importance and difficulties of making choices that back up into the real world. But what I like about this story is that it doesn’t shy away from Coraline’s trauma. The constant neglect that she faces causes her to feel unwanted and the trauma that carries over the situation makes her desperate to find affection somewhere else. So when she does find affection from the Other Mother, she jumps at the chance to feel wanted over and over again. Inside her mind, she’s chasing love and adoration, she has no idea what’s actually happening, but how could she? She’s just a child who’s being manipulated. The constant display of love bombing and over ambunance of presents, food and gifts are just a display of love. Children are often taught that gift giving is an act of showing love (which I know it’s a love language but displayed differently here). So when Coraline is getting everything she wants, she is convinced that the other mother loves her, even though it’s not the case, it’s just manipulation. Kindness can be a lie in order to manipulate. 

The moral of the story overall is, “be careful what you wish for”. At the beginning of the story, Coraline is deeply dissatisfied with her life and is constantly bored by the mundane realities of her surroundings. However, she learns to appreciate the magic of everyday life by the end of the story. This story is about generational trauma, something that I have struggled with as a first gen daughter . So I also  relate to Coraline, as a kid and even as a teenager. If I was given the opportunity to go to a dimension where I’m okay, I would probably take it – like a lot of other kids would and I don’t even hate my parents btw!  

But what I most resonate with from the film is Coraline’s courage.  Her ability to take on the other mother and show fearlessness makes her an inspirational title character.