Article | “Coraline and the Secret World”, the epitome of children’s horror

In 2009, nearly three decades after commissioning the acclaimed classic “The Strange World of Jack,” Henry Selick was set to make history again by adapting the spooky tale “Coraline and the Secret World” for the big screen.

Drawing on the writings of legendary author Neil Gaiman, Selick returned to explore the genre of stop-motion animation to recount the journey of Coraline Jones (Dakota Johnson), a young girl who unwillingly moved into a house. secluded within the United States, far from the friends and world she once knew. Despite crossing countless bizarre and eccentric characters, Coraline always felt lonely – that is, until she found a mysterious hidden door in the mansion and discovered an “upside down” universe. “, in which all his wishes came true.

Considering that we are dealing with a work signed by Gaiman, the beauty and enchantment with which Coraline sees this new dimension does not last long – after all, an evil stalks her innocence and innocence to keep her trapped in a cycle of chaos. and horror. At first, the protagonist realizes that she is in a place very similar to the one she lives in, but with one difference: the unstoppable optimism of her Other Parents and all who inhabit the Other World function as masks for the terrible goals of the Other Mother (voiced by the ever-incredible Teri Hatcher), also known as the Beautiful Lady, who changes from mother to mother to attract children and feed on their souls.

Reading this raw analysis of the plot content, we would never imagine that the animation was aimed at the youngest. However, it is remarkable that Selick, perhaps borrowing a few pages from compatriots who have done something similar, architects an adventure aimed at the most diverse audiences, from children to adults. Personally, I vividly remember being frightened by the pimples in the eyes of characters from Another World and how the Beautiful Lady transforms into a frightening arachnid creature to attack Coraline.

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Selick’s driving genius is linked to Gaiman’s creative genius – and it is clear that the author did not write the novel thinking of bringing it to the audiovisual media, which makes this naturalness and this naturalness even more surprising. complex organism. There is a remarkable respect from the director for the novelist and a mutuality of thought that permeates the subtle lines of the production.

Even the name of the dimension that divides the gate is ingenious – in Portuguese, translated as the aforementioned Other World. The choice of the indefinite pronominal (other, in the original) carries symbolic content of extreme value for the links between father and son and for the future links that the son will form with the world: it is normal that elderly people warning children of possible dangers they might encounter along the way – including strangers who might “kidnap” them (I can’t count on my fingers how many times I’ve heard this from my mother). At the same time, the question of the other is striking because it is new and because it is different from the protected and comfortable microcosm that we are used to, that is, our home.

Coraline, as a child, still does not have enough experience to cope with the ills of the world and, moved by the imagination and the exasperation of workaholic parents, she is carried away by the magic behind the trap door. . The secret world that accompanies the title of the feature film places the two parties at a level of symbiosis that is explored to the extreme by an impeccable script and a concern for imagery that draws elements from German expressionism to aesthetic minimalism.

Like so many other Laika productions, like ‘ParaNorman’ and ‘Kubo and the Magic Cords’, choosing younger characters is iconic. Coraline, Norman and Kubo are standards of sociological plasticity and the fact that they deal with events that escape the
“Normal” and not represented on a daily basis allows them to grow and learn to recognize their own mistakes, using weaknesses as engines to destroy the wicked and save what they have lost. Coraline, being one of the first to take a big foothold in the mainstream and move away completely from the legendary, short-sighted personality of classic Walt Disney Princesses, for example, has endless maturation space – thus being presented as a multi-faceted girl who understands the winding paths that fate awaits.

The heroine channels themes of very clear universality, without being analyzed in a tiring and boring way. Incursions on fear, paranoia, confidence, betrayal and courage unfold in each of the films, branching out into a crescendo that foreshadows, from the opening sequence, the final confrontation between Coraline and her most fears. profound – that is why the film deserves and must be rediscovered generation by generation.

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