so sharp, you won’t feel a thing

Posted on July 4, 2011

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now *this* is what a kids film is all about. this is a true fairytale that should be seen by everyone but the very youngest of children. if you haven’t seen coraline yet –grab a copy of it, settle down and enjoy a good old-fashioned bit of storytelling.

it’s easy to get bored with the conveyor belt of forgettable animated movies, and sometimes i forget that there are actually some *great* animated movies.  for example, we watched the best movie of 2004 last week – the incredibles! josh and ethan were tiny when they saw it and ruben was a baby. so to watch it last week was brilliant. the big boys loved edna and ruben really liked dash. he even exclaimed “that was awesome!” as the credits rolled.

fairytales are generally of a macabre and somewhat gruesome nature. they have a story to tell. the aim of a movie is also to tell a story – and to tell it well, but alas, due to the vast amounts of sanitised animated mush that chokes up the arteries of movieland, the art of crafting a true wonder of the screen has fallen to a small band of storytellers. it has almost become the norm to assume that our children are unable to cope with evil in a story, and henceforth and forthwith all kids movies are to have happy ever afters! disney break this sometimes and generally have a parent who is missing/dead, but never explores this. pixar tell great stories [generally] which are suitable for adults as much as children, but skimp on the ‘meat’ of a story, and generally fall into the feel good mould.

and so to the fairytale that is coraline.
coraline is the brainchild of the master of macabre storyteller neil gaiman, and teamed with the stop-motion magic of selick [the nightmare before christmas] you have on your screen a truly wonderful thing. it was only recently when i added some neil gaiman books to my kindle that i realised coraline was one of his stories, so i got hold of a copy of the movie and i began watching it late at night just to see what it was like – planning on watching maybe 10 minutes or so. i was transfixed and before i knew it – it was 1.30 and i had just watched one of the best animated movies i have ever seen.

coraline is a young girl who has moved house with her busy parents who have very little time to look after her, so she fills her time exploring her new surroundings, both outdoors and indoors. it’s in her own house that she comes across a small, wallpapered over, locked door, behind which she ventures through to a parallel world in which her parents dote on her and life’s better than she could ever imagine back home… except for one thing. everyone in the other world has buttons for eyes, and before long coraline learns the awful truth about her other parents and their plans for her.

mmm, sounds fluffy doesn’t it?
in the true spirit of fairytales [the old fashioned kind] there is a dark side to the story. i’m talking kids in the oven in the gingerbread house, the poison apple and snow white’s heart, and little red’s granny eating wolf kind of dark side. buttons for eyes? two words describe this perfectly: creepy and disturbing.

coraline is a masterpiece. both visually, and in its storytelling where there lies a powerful moral tale about the nature of love. it’s surprising that a film-making technique as old as cinema itself can still be this scary… and full of heart.

“but remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. and God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. when you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13

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