How Henry Selick Went Beyond What Was in the Book

Neil Gaimann‘s novella, coral, was released in 2002 and has since become a classic. The young protagonist’s journey is one of the darkest stories told in a children’s book. This made it the perfect starting material for a Heinrich Seilick Movie. For years, Henry Selick’s stop-motion films have captivated, inspired, and haunted audiences, just as viewers envision his new film Wendel & Wild It will be once it releases on October 28th. One of his most popular films is the last film he released in 2009. coralknown for its children’s chorus score and fantastic imagery, not to mention the story’s villains with buttons for eyes, follows a young girl (Dakota Fanning), who with her mother (Teri Hatcher) and father (John Hodgman). As she explores, she finds a small door locked by a brick wall. However, as night falls, Coraline realizes that the door is a portal to another world eerily similar to her own.


Neil Gaiman’s story is a dark, cautionary tale written in a style reminiscent of a children’s picture book. With his unforgettable stop-motion animation style, Selick takes the timeless folk tale and makes an equally timeless film, while simultaneously deepening the world Gaiman created with one unique detail at a time. From the new characters to the expansion of Coraline’s fantasy world, Selick takes the dark fairy tale and creates a more complicated story while maintaining the horror aspect of the novella.

Selick’s film and Gaiman’s book are not quite the same

The main theme of both the film and the novella is the idea of ​​the uncanny and the “other”. The Otherworld in both media is just like Coraline’s real world, and a few key things just slightly off the mark are enough to show viewers and readers that something isn’t quite right. In this case, everything is the same, except that everyone has buttons for eyes. Gaiman’s novella and Selick’s film are also very similar in many ways, but not exactly the same. The doorway in the novella is regular sized, not small, and instead of apartments, viewers are treated to the visually stunning Pink Palace.

RELATED: 7 Animated Movies That Actually Scared Us As Kids, From ‘Coraline’ To ‘Watership Down’

Selick added new characters

But one of the biggest differences is the addition of new characters. Absent from the book and created for Selick’s film is Coraline’s talkative neighbor Wybie Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.), whose grandmother (Carolyn Crawford) owns the building. In addition, Mrs. Lovat’s twin sister mysteriously disappeared from the Pink Palace when they were children. This part of the story introduces the subject of sewing and kicks off the film by showing the Other Mother transforming the twin sister’s doll into a doll that looks like Coraline, providing the perfect backdrop for the youthful but frightening film .

When Coraline finds the Other World, she also finds that the Other Mother created an Other Wybie, with buttons for his eyes and a mouth sewn shut. The addition of these characters allows viewers to feel more connected to the story, especially when the film introduces the ghost of Mrs. Lovat’s sister. It also captures the audience’s imagination as they contemplate how Mrs. Lovat’s sister entered the Otherworld many years ago and faced her own twin as the “Other”, also complete with buttons for eyes.

Selick left out some of the book’s darker moments

The presence of Wybie and the other Wybie gives Coraline a friend to experience the madness and uneasiness with. The story expands with new, more playful moments that the reader won’t find in the book, such as: B. Wybie, who helps Coraline destroy the other mother’s severed, autonomous hand at the end of the film. Among other things, new protagonists help balance out the element of horror, which, while very present in the film, is the entire foundation of the novella. One of the more fundamental scenes missing from the film is when Coraline finds a trap door in her home in the Otherworld. This is also the moment when Coraline confronts the other father, a moment that is replaced in the film with a slightly lighter scene, most likely because of the novella’s darkness: “She was ready to turn and leave when she saw the way the foot stuck out from under the pile of curtains. She took a deep breath (the smell of sour wine and moldy bread filled her head) and she pulled away the damp cloth to reveal something more or less the size and shape of a person.”

While it’s fascinating to think about how this scene would have played out in Selick’s film, it was removed and replaced with other elements, such as: B. Musical Numbers by Miss Spink (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Forced (Twilight French) and a whole circus routine by Mr. Bobinsky (Ian McShane) and his troupe of dancing mice. The film takes a short children’s story and finds its aspects that merit expansion, turning the cautionary tale into something much larger. Selick is therefore able to emphasize the childlike aspect of the story without downplaying the fear and unease that characterize Gaiman’s novella.

Selick’s Technicolor “Other World”

In Selick’s other world it is always dark and at night. And contrasting with the nocturnal backdrop is the vibrant, colorful fantasy world created especially for the young heroine. Each part of the Otherworld draws the eye, leaving viewers unsure whether the spectacular display of smoke and mirrors was meant to emphasize the darkness, or the other way around. illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi was the visual designer of Coraline and is behind the concept of the film’s atmosphere, specifically the Pink Palace. His artworks portray both the everyday and the fantasy worlds with retro inspiration and realism that is just a few steps away from surrealism.

In the story, this eerie world was created by the Other Mother, also known as “Beldam”. Selick complements the Other Mother’s imagery by painting her as a seamstress and metaphorical spider, with the Other World as her finely crafted web. The Other Mother is given needles for fingers for her beady eyes and is surrounded by insects caught in her web as the illusion of the fantasy world fades and Coraline learns the truth. While the film does more for the character’s Other Mother aspect, Gaiman’s folk tale paints the elusive Beldam and her crafted world as more open and mysterious.

As Coraline flees home in the novelization, readers must use their imaginations to understand what the Other World and its portal really is. “The wall she was touching now felt warm and pliable, and she found that it felt like it was covered in a fine, downy fur. She shifted as if she were catching her breath… Whatever that corridor was was far older than the other mother. It was profound and slow and knowing she was there…” Viewers learn more about the other mother’s abilities once the film finally gives in to its surrealism as she collapses the living room floor into a spider web, and she morphs into a spider.

The film offers a satisfactory conclusion

Selick takes the mystery and gives a satisfying final scene in which Coraline defeats the Other Mother without ever revealing where she came from, how old she was, or how long she had had children. Whether it’s the visuals in the film or the blunt, childlike storytelling in the novelization, both versions are able to capture a young child’s perspective. However, the film satisfies the viewer’s imagination while preserving the mystery of a story akin to an urban legend.

Both the film and the book are timeless

While Neil Gaimans coral Reads more like a short fairy tale and has an even darker tone than that presented by Selick, the film uses that flexibility to create a disturbing, cautionary tale about a girl who must embark on a twisted journey to appreciate what she is Has . Every aspect of the film takes its already terrifying source material and brings to life a more engaging world on the other side of the door, while also acknowledging the intelligence of its younger viewers, despite the differences between the two and the obvious expansion, Selick’s film introduces viewers to both versions achieve timelessness and capture the fantasy of childhood as most books and films only try to do.

Henry Selick’s new film Wendel & Wild will be released on Netflix on October 28th. How Henry Selick Went Beyond What Was in the Book

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