As I’m the Most Relevant of Bloggers, I Just Saw Coraline

Coraline was released into theaters on February 6th.  Based on my calculations, I’m right on time to catching this at the height of its buzz in the cultural zeitgeist.  But this post isn’t about blogger relevancy 101, this blog is about seeing Coraline in 3-D.  Trust me, y’all: Coraline is dazzling stuff.  For once, there’s proof in the Hollywood-poster pudding:


That pretty much sums up the experience of seeing Coraline.  “Oh. My. God.”  Or maybe “Crimminy crap, that’s stunning.”  Take your pick.  The entire aesthetic experience of the film, from the whimsical music to the fantasia of candy-colored images unafraid to get drenched in shadows, makes for a truly remarkable 100 minutes.

In case you needed a refresher on the plot (and just how fabulous those visuals are), here’s the trailer:

That’s pretty much the plot: Girl finds door to spectacular other world only to discover that it’s much more deceptive than it first seems.  I would have embedded the online-only trailer, as it gives you a much better sense of just  how surreal and dark the movie’s visuals and tone can be, but the great pleasure in seeing Coraline is that dizzying sense of discovery.  As such, here’s a link should you want to make sure it’s within your range of acceptable weirdness, but know ahead that it takes away more than a little of the fun to be had.

Coraline is more or less a cinematic fairy tale; it employs a relatively thin plot as a way to craft a phantasmagoria of images both spectacular (an elaborate stage show staged by two aging actresses and watched by an audience of Scottish Terriers and a circus performance by an army of bounding mice) and sinister (this movie, simply put, makes ample use of just how creepy doll imagery can be).  That’s not meant as a slight, though, because the imagery is so rich and textured that it more than makes up for anything lacking in the plot itself.  Henry Selick and his team of stop-motion animators and artists have dreamt up a world that, even in 2-D, would be a wonder to behold; the visuals are consistently fresh and pop with ample splashes of color no matter how dark the story gets, and the animation is so impressive that you can’t believe this isn’t computer animated.  But you can also see Coraline in 3-D, and that’s where the real magic lies.

Selick’s use of the technology never resorts to gimmickry, where things are just being launched at the camera to give you that “it’s-coming-right-at-you!” thrill.  He’s instead entirely aware that 3-D can also add an astonishing field depth to the image: the screen becomes the edge of a stage, and Selick burrows far back from the screen to craft his world.  This transforms Coraline from visually absorbing to visually immersive, a fantasy world made real.  As the film approaches its climax, in which the Other Mother’s world literally deconstructs itself, Selick’s execution of a fantasy land coming apart achieves the rarest of feats.  He’s made a spectacle that’s not some shallow exercise in entertainment (though it is thoroughly entertaining); he’s crafted something breathtaking and beautiful, a sequence of such inspired imagination and vision that it demands to be revisited.

In short, he’s made art.  

If you’re lucky enough to still be able to see Coraline in theaters (particularly in 3-D), don’t hesitate to see it.  Immediately.  I get a feeling that it’ll be quite a while before we see something so singularly unique cinematic experience.  It’s a sad truth, but it also makes Coraline that much more special.


One Response

  1. dazzling is a good word to describe this. I saw it in 3-D a few weeks ago, it was amazing! Great post


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