Thursday, September 10, 2009

Neil Gaiman's Coraline

As is often the case, the book was far superior to the movie. While brilliantly animated (and presented in 3-D), Director Henry Selick's 2009 release of Coraline failed to capture the essence of the masterfully-crafted story by Neil Gaiman. In spite of the valiant efforts of powerkid Dakota Fanning, and the "Desperate" Teri Hatcher, the film fell flat for me, even before I had something to compare it to.

While Selick's screenplay left me feeling as though adults had toiled feverishly in order to appeal to a child-like perspective, Gaiman's original work effortlessly transported me to a sacred place of wonder and amazement, often only inhabited by the very young and imaginative. In my humble opinion, there is almost nothing worse than grown-ups who bend over backward in order to appear "cool" to the younger generation. Either you're cool or you aren't -- and if you aren't, no amount of research on playground lingo can help you. Fortunately for all the readers out there, young and not-so-young, Neil Gaiman is incredibly cool.

Neil Gaiman
is also incredibly English. Although he now lives in the United States, much of his work is full of delicious British colloquialisms, and overall, bears a decidedly English flavour. When I read his work, I imagine everyone speaking like Oliver Twist, even before I've been instructed by the author to do so. Unfortunately, none of this flavour comes through in the motion picture, as the production was highly Americanized in order to appeal to wallets of the west. Teri Hatcher couldn't have produced a believable British accent if her parents were Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher!

Interspersed throughout the book's 162 pages is a collection of illustrations by Dave McKean. The drawings are not what one would normally expect to find within a children's book, which is much of what makes them so incredible. Rendered in a ragged, sketchy style, many of the images are downright frightening -- perfect accompaniments to Gaiman's enchanting tale of secret doors, lost children, and a fearsomely-wicked woman. One thousand heartfelt thank-you's to Karswell for gifting me with this delightfully-quirky book!

"We are small but we are many
We are many we are small

We were here before you rose

We will be here when you fall..."


Karswell said...

I actually think the movie is awesome... but yeah, those illustrations are another good example of how much MORE awesome 'n scary it could've been if McKean had art directed. But to be fair (and quit bashing America on 9/11!) I can't think of anyone working in film today who could ever come close to translating anything by Gaiman properly to the silver screen.

The book will always be awesome, the movie could've been alot worse.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Karswell said: "I can't think of anyone working in film today who could ever come close to translating anything by Gaiman properly to the silver screen."

I think you are absolutely right. I remember some years back, there was a lot of buzz about Good Omens possibly being treated for the big screen. It had an IMDB entry and everything -- the operative word being "had," as it no longer exists. It would have been impossible, or rather, possibly awful.

I also agree that this movie could have been worse. I really enjoyed the Dog Ladies' otherworld performance. As a whole, however, the picture just didn't flow for me, I guess.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Oh, and sorry about the 9/11 faux pas. I thought that since I prepared the post on 9/10 that it was still OK to horse whip Uncle Sam.

I didn't really bash the USA, though. Teri Hatcher took the full force of my misdirected anger.

Karswell said...

Just joking, you can bash the US all you want, on any day of the year... we kind of deserve a good bashing now and then actually.

Lily Strange said...

The original is obviously infinitely creepier. But I have a fondness for the film. My son and I watched it together before he left for Quebec. When he comes back I'll have to show him these illustrations.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Lily, you and Karswell are probably right about the movie. Perhaps I am just jaded? No kids = no fondness, I guess.

Price said...

Such a great little read indeed, transported me to a place of wonder for a few hours while reading.

I love how you read it with an "Oliver Twist" accent, I do that all the time!

Kitty LeClaw said...

When the Oliver Twist accent begins to take over my personality is when I get worried!

Drazen said...

I have not read the book but I do think the movie is incredible and my favorite since Triplets of Belleville. One of the few new animated movies I can watch over and over again. I think its a beautiful world thats created and hontestly looking at the McKean illustrations which are cool, they leave me a little cold like much of his work . I only saw a bit of the movie he directed but and it didn't do much for me so I can't imagine a better Coraline..... but of course I haven't read the book soooooo....:-)