The multiverse according to Coraline and the secret door | tomatoes

the strange world of Coraline and the secret door – 90% It has many elements that make it special among the stories that speak of alternate worlds or mirror worlds. The adaptation of the award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman it became an instant cult classic. hand in hand henry selick and the animation studio Laika, this story was combined with stop-motion to become a dark modern fairy tale.

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The plot tells us the story of Coraline Jones, a girl who tries to adapt —without much success— to her new home, the Pink Palace, as well as her curious neighbors. In this new place, she will have to deal with the fact that her parents ignore her, prioritizing her work and other “adult things”. But she, too, will have allies, such as a boy named Wybie —who is the grandson of the owner of the house— and a mysterious black cat.

Soon, Coraline discovers a hidden secret door that leads to a mirror world to hers, where none of her problems exist and she is very happy. While her adventures in that world continue, both the cat and her neighbors warn her about her stay there and advise her to stop visiting. Finally the “perfect world” falls apart and when the girl tries to escape she discovers that reality is actually controlled by a witch who has trapped and murdered three children, whose souls still cannot escape from that place.

This encounter with magical and fantastic elements from equally mundane and extraordinary places is a hallmark of the author, but in this story it is particularly ominous with a girl in the lead, who is tempted by the illusions of a perfect world for her. This story told its author ten years of creation, reflects to a great extent the fears and anxieties towards the familiar that suddenly becomes distorted towards terror. Coraline’s “other mother” with buttons for eyes is actually a representation of the wondrous temptations a girl her age would want from a father and how hauntingly terrifying and inexplicable it is that she wants Coraline to live with her. forever once his eyes are replaced with buttons.

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The fantastic elements of this narrative fall into the field of the gothic, where terror and anxiety fulfill a fundamentally different function, since its use of the aesthetics of horror becomes its signature par excellence. In this, a physical perception of the look of a subject is presented —and in this case, its visual representation— that is combined with the subjective imagination that is built with incidents, uncertainty and a confused identity as experiences of enigmatic and/or unknown characters, who are often ominous doppelgängers, like a metaphor for the dark side of the human psyche cohabiting in the same space.

Gothic horror reacts to excess in every context and behavior, something that is very clear in the construction of Coraline’s universe and very specifically in the corporeality of its characters. This quality also makes her meaning ambivalent, so her portrayals of “evil” and horror never become final and leave a lot of room for the viewer’s interpretation of her.

Fantasies that convey a sense of horror are often referred to as dark fantasy while supernatural fictions that possess a sense of terror as weird fiction. Horror is presented through the union of two simultaneous elements: the recognition of a threat to one’s own body and/or culture and/or the world; and a sense that there is something inherently monstrous and wrong (other) in the form of an invasive presence lurking.

But authors John Grant and John Clute warn that it is not enough for the mundane world to be invaded, assaulted, seduced, or cajoled from another sphere, nor for monsters to exist outside the fabric of the otherworld, but rather what generates the chill of horror is an overwhelming sense that the invaders are obscene and transgressively impure. The monsters of horror dirty the limits that separate us from the “other” violating the natural laws of a species and its own world.

In this sense, the disruption to Coraline’s world represents that transgression both to what the girl considers too ordinary and monotonous, and her search will be wrapped in horror, which is probably the greatest virtue of the gothic genre, because this incessant confusion within of an ominous world forces the viewer to question all the norms of their reality, and pulls the thread of the unheimlich — everything that according to social convention should have remained secret and hidden, but has come to light.

Researcher Javier Torres-Fernández points out that while gothic stories often emphasize and question human morality, children’s literature often has a moralizing value. In the case of Coraline, an audience of all ages is presented with a story within the genre of children’s literature that seems to be deeply rooted in the Gothic tradition. Thus, the presence of ghosts, grotesque beings and the existence of a parallel and dark universe, serve as a canvas to expose the anxieties that the protagonist deals with and that are related to her own personal development, her growth and the environment that surrounds her.

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The author affirms that both the book and the film try to question the idealization of the family, at the same time that it delves into its growth process and its way of facing a new home. Thus, gothic horror is used to illuminate her coming-to-age and the family conflict that surrounds and suffocates her. In the mirror world or alternative world falls the weight of the alterity that is created based on the experiences of difference and the strange. It usually goes hand in hand when referring to the other and his otherness, that “other me” that creates ruptures and uncertainties in the conception of reality. The mirror appears as an instrument of imprisonment for the souls of children, since mirrors usually maintain a close relationship with other worlds as portals, frequently to a reverse world.

Also, the story has clear influences from the fairy tales of the oral tradition where happy endings were neither common nor necessary. These dark stories of cautionary tales were popular tales commonly known as märchen or volksmärchen in Germany —cradle of Gothic horror—, where the term wundermärchen —wonderful tale— was also created to describe those fairy tales that involve the supernatural and are inspired by the same mythical or folkloric roots but set in an alternate world or in a timeless past.

Here the figure of the witch takes on special importance, since her role in the story is at times equally ambiguous and intriguing, until the moment when Coraline discovers the truth through the voice of her own victims. In this strict sense, she is the perfect monster to take her place in a gothic horror narrative, as she meets all the necessary elements to destabilize the protagonist’s reality, and even when the truth finally comes to light, her role changes to new elements of horror, this time purer as a direct bloodthirsty threat. Thus, evil also mutates and adapts along with Coraline’s perception of reality.

The alternate world of the secret door ends up being a faithful conceptualization of the classic map components of its genre, so its success and followers around the world are not surprising. Although its fans have been waiting for a sequel since the film hit theaters in 2009, there would be no problem in considering this story as self-contained, precisely because of its great handling of the alternate world and the horror defeated at the end of the movie. same.

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The multiverse according to Coraline and the secret door | tomatoes