Coraline 3D

6 May 2009
Last night the NFT BFI Southbank had a showing of Coraline, the new stop motion film from Henry Selick (the director of “Tim Burton’s” The Nightmare Before Christmas) and based on the book by Neil Gaiman.
Now I’ve not read the book, although I believe many have – and some of them were in the audience last night.
The film has a wonderful feel to it, with the hand crafted models beautifully animated. The 3D is superbly realised without the showy “coming-out-of-the-screen” effects too many 3D films in the past have been known for.
In the Q&A afterwards, Selick explained how the physical dimensions of the two worlds was actually different…
But I’m jumping ahead of myself. The story is about a little girl, Coraline, who’s moved into the Pink Palace Apartments – basically a big house divided into three. Upstairs and downstairs are an array of colourful characters but when Coraline discovers a secret doorway it takes her into another world – the same, but different. Here, her parents spend time talking to her, and feed her lovely food. The small difference is that they have buttons for eyes.
There is, of course, much more to this world. Is it quite as wonderful as Coraline first imagines? What do you think?
The voicework is great, and the imagination is exceptional with wondeful flights of fancy all realised with inordinate creativity.
As I mentioned, we had a Q&A with Selick and Gaiman after the film, and it was informative hearing the genesis of film, the time it took to get into production (I’ll give you a clue – it was years), and the various iterations of how the film would be made before it was produced in this form.
We also heard about the differences between the book and the film. And in the audience were Ian McShane (Bobinsky) and John Hodgman (Father and Other Father). Well, I say McShane was there. He actually left early. Hodgman, however, came up on stage and joined in the discussion.
It really is fascinating listening to a discussion about how much you can scare children. We’ve had the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and of course, the Daleks in Doctor Who. Children like being scared, and the “other parents” in Coraline are the latest iterations in a long line of scary villains. Buttons for eyes are intrinsically scary. And it’s great that a film like this exists to scare a new generation of children.
And lots of adults should go and see this film too – preferably in 3D.


  1. Was Coraline still widely available in 3D early this month? I just watched it for the first time in the dollar theatre and adored it, but it’s the only theatre showing it now. Somehow the ad blitz for this film flew under my radar. I’d love for it to be re-released in 3D even for a couple weeks later like Dark Knight was in IMAX, but that’s unlikely. Oh well. Better than Other World where I can see it in 3D if I get 3D buttons in my eyes. 🙂
    What did Selick say about the physical dimensions of the two worlds? Anything interesting he said that you can remember would be appreciated, really. 🙂

  2. I’m in the UK, so there wasn’t such an issue with other 3D films getting in its way just yet. Added to which, I think the movie’s done better, proportionately, here than it did in the US. It’s currently no.3 in the box office. So, yes, I can still fairly easily see it in 3D.
    What Selick said about the dimensions of the two worlds is that in the real world, everything was built a bit smaller with a steeper “rake” between the front of stage and back of stage. Then in the other world, the rake is shallower, but the stage much deeper. So when Coraline first goes to the other world, everything feels much freer and brighter than she’s been used to. It just makes the other world that bit more appealing when she first gets there.
    Hope than helps!

  3. Thanks! I’m going again tomorrow so I’ll look for that effect. I hadn’t heard of stage rake before, but I got the gist from google. Apparently it’s in lesser use these days because the audience is raked.
    I checked and Coraline came out early May in the UK. It came out in February for the US. Hey, is there a Coraline standee you could pick up from a theatre for me? Probably they’re gone from your theatres like the Star Trek ones here, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, I suppose. 🙂

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