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Childhood movie continues to captivate after sparking love of creepy, bizarre in youth

We all have childhood movies that stick with us for years to come; comfort films that shape and define our earliest memories. Coraline was that movie for me. The more I’ve watched the movie over the years and the more I’ve picked up on all the little details, I have come to the conclusion that Coraline is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

The first thing that appealed to me about this spectacular movie were the characters. The main character, Coraline, is a 12-year-old with a snippy attitude who is upset that her parents moved her from Michigan to Oregon. The movie shows how a big move can negatively affect a child as Coraline searches for things to quell her boredom and isolated feelings.

The decisions she makes while dealing with conflicts in the movie make her feel even more authentic. Only a child could be imaginative and naive at the same time when it comes to the situations she was put in, like when she decides to use a game to get her real parents back from the other mother, who is the main villain of the movie.

On top of Coraline being a stellar main character, the side characters are just as endearing. Mr. Bobinsky is portrayed as the crazy upstairs neighbor with a “mouse circus.” Though he plays a small part in the movie, his minimal screen time still manages to show audiences how odd he is.

Miss Spink and Forcible are the downstairs neighbors who LOVE the theatre. Their need to be dramatic doesn’t stop them from seriously assisting Coraline when she is struggling with what to do with the other mother. They provide her a tool that helps her win the game against the other mother while also gifting audiences with the comedic scene of them attempting to read her tea leaves, debating if she is in danger or if a man is about to come into her life.

Arguably, one of the best characters in the movie is the villain, the other mother. Portraying a loving mother in the beginning of the movie to slowly progress into a hungry manipulator of children is both terrifying and thrilling to see. Not only does she give an adequate horror aspect to the film, she also provided viewers with a lesson.

The reason the other mother is able to manipulate Coraline in the beginning of the movie is not only due to Coraline’s naivety, but Coraline’s real parents’ actions toward making the young girl feel alone and unwanted. It is a reason why the movie had such a huge impact on me because the conflict is multifaceted and isn’t just due to the sole blame of the child or the parents.

Aside from the characters and storyline, everything else that went into the movie is outstanding. Henry Selick is an under appreciated director who can work his way around a stop/clay-motion production just as well as the more well-known Tim Burton. The animation work is so intricate that there are 207,336 possible face combinations for Coraline.

The soundtrack is also something to be marveled at. For the longest time I would find myself humming random snippets of the movie, as well as singing the catchy nursery rhyme Coraline’s dad sings to her, and the even better jingle the other father sings upon meeting Coraline.

The most shocking thing about the soundtrack is that it is mostly a nonsensical language sung by a choir specifically for the movie. French composer Bruno Coulais worked with the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra to make 10 songs for the film and had them sung by the Children’s choir of Nice. Even though the majority of the soundtrack is gibberish, it still gets stuck in your head.

The best part of the movie above all else HAS to be the tiny details, Easter eggs if you will, that were left throughout the movie. Learning any snippet of lore about my favorite childhood movie made the film all the more enjoyable the more I watched it.

Odd things that didn’t make sense the first couple of times around, like Mr. Bobinsky’s pale blue skin had hidden meanings that I adored learning about. The medal on Mr. Bobinsky’s chest is a Russian hero service medal for the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, revealing radiation as a reason for his skin color. Even though this detail isn’t significant to the plot itself, the fact that the writers included such a small detail shows how much care was put into the movie.

Other details actually provide significance to the plot and make audiences hungry to try and notice anything else. When the other mother gifts Coraline a cake that says “Welcome Home,” the cursive letter O, in the word “Home” was double looped, which historically is an indication that the person writing it was being untrustworthy.

The combination of all the well thought-out aspects put into the movie is what makes this film so incredible. The fact that a children’s film has this level of attention to detail and layers shows that the screenwriters and directors put their all into such a production. Coraline has been and will continue to be my favorite children’s movie for those very reasons, and I encourage anyone who hasn’t watched it to do so immediately.

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Sabrina Bush, Staff Writer
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