02 September 2009

CORALINE – A 3-D Movie With Snippets of Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio

A couple of weeks ago when Henry Selick’s movie “Coraline” finally had reached the big screens of Australia I had a chance to go and see it as a 3-D version. It gave me a glimpse of what Tim Burton’s Alice will be like. Since “Coraline” is a fully animated movie the 3-D glasses made the film seem more realistic and vivid.

Neil Gaiman’s story of "Coraline" tells the tale of Coraline Jones, who moves to a new town and a house where several strange characters live. Coraline's parents don’t seem to have much time for her, so Coraline must explore her new environment by herself. In the house she uncovers a small door, which seems to lead to nowhere with a brick wall behind it. But upon following a tiny mouse to the door late at night, it suddenly opens onto a parallel world that is much more colourful and fun than the real world. It is easy to compare the scenes with ”Alice in Wonderland”. Coraline crawling through a tunnel under ground reminds of Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole following the White Rabbit.

The world that opens in the other end of the tunnel is basically similar as Coraline’s real house but that’s where the similarities end. In this ‘Other World’ Coraline has ‘Other Parents’ who look the same as her real parents but who act very much differently. They have all the time in the world for Coraline; they spoil her, feed her favourite foods and cakes, give presents etc. The only visible difference with the parents is that the ‘Other Parents’ have buttons for eyes. Actually most inhabitants there have buttons instead of eyes. And this is creepy for Coraline who learns that the ‘Other Parents’ are hoping for her to stay with them forever. But in doing so she must have her eyes replaced with big black buttons as well!

All this with the extraordinary circus at the neighbour’s place actually reminds me more of Disney’s other movie Pinocchio more than Alice. Pinocchio was also lured to a world where he didn’t have to go to school but was allowed to do what he wanted but in the exchange he began to turn into a donkey. Buttons… donkey’s tail.. you see what I mean?
Still there are other hints to Alice’s stories. The real parents being locked behind a big glass window– two things come to mind: Alice climbing Through the Looking Glass and Harry Potter’s parents in the special Mirror of Erised.

The character of the ‘Other Mother’ has some similarities with the Queen of Hearts who is constantly yelling “Off with her head!” in “Alice in Wonderland”; especially in the end of the film where the ‘Other Mother’ has transformed into a horrifying bony creature who is after Coraline and her eyes.
We all know that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was just a dream, but how about Coraline? Was it all just a dream or more like a nightmare?

Those who haven't seen Coraline yet, see for yourselves:

One thing is for sure, “Coraline” is not for young children. ‘The Other World’ becomes too dark and creepy towards the end of the film. Adults and older children instead can enjoy the beautiful scenery and clever setting of a dream world with hidden dangers.
I had the best time watching it and now I’m waiting even more for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 3-D of course!

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