Sunday, March 15, 2009


"It was a story, I learned when people began to read it, that children experienced as an adventure, but which gave adults nightmares. It's the strangest book I've written, it took the longest time to write, and it's the book I'm proudest of" --Neil Gaiman

So, Wednesday night we went to see CORALINE, the new movie based on my favorite Neil Gaiman novel. It's been a while since we last went to the movies (W.? DARK KNIGHT?), aside from that one Imax 'documentary' about the Nile, and it was unsettling how empty the theatre was. Did people stop going to movies in the last few months? We saw a grand total of (a) three employees (ticket seller, ticket taker, and at the concession stand), (b) three other people were already seated waiting to see the same movie we were there for, and (c) two more came in after us. That was it: not a single other person in the hall, no one hanging around outside, nothing. Another sign of the Depression, perhaps.

For not having seen a movie in several months, we picked a good one. I think CORALINE the best of all Gaiman's books (I wish it'd won him the Newbery instead of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK), and while they'd changed it a good deal it was a good movie too. The 'animation' was puppet-style, like THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and while I found it a little off-putting at first (I'd have preferred either traditional animation or live-action) I soon adapted. It'd been a while since I'd read the book, and I was surprised by how much I didn't remember -- re-reading it since, I see that a lot of the things I thought I must have forgotten weren't in the book at all but were new for the movie (e.g., the character Whybee*, or all the stuffed Scotties, or Mr. Bobo's acrobatics). The movie is more dramatic, and somewhat more comic, than the book, but I think those were examples of them making good use of the medium to tell the story their way, and that Gaiman's story v. much shone through. In particular Coraline is a v. appealing hero and yet at the same time a v. believable kid,** and both her real parents and her Other parents were appealing in their distinct ways. As we were coming out, Janice said she wished they'd had a movie like that around when she was a kid.

So, a good, possibly great movie that shd lead people back to the undeniably brilliant book. A good show all round.


*though as Janice observed that's a v. Gaiman-esque name; perhaps N.G. had input into the script.
**my favorite scene, I think, was when she made herself a place in her parents' empty bed, which I thought heart-breakingly true-to-life.

1 comment:

SESchend said...

Sarah and I loved CORALINE too, John. Marvelous movie and (while both had their strong points and were well done for what they were) much more enjoyable than WATCHMEN.

It was strange that we went to see CORALINE the same weekend we caught INKHEART before it disappeared from theaters. While the latter had some flaws, it too was a lot of fun and one we'd recommend to you and Janice either in a 2nd run theater or on DVD whenever that happens.