Coraline proves that animation is the best way to adapt Neil Gaiman

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The worlds of “Coraline,” both regular and otherwise, are distinctly moody in their own way. The dark colors and curvy architecture make the film’s setting instantly memorable, yet identifiable as something made by Selick and adapted from Gaiman. These sets, totaling 150 and located in a warehouse in Oregon, were packed with detail thanks to homemade miniatures. Thanks to the stop-motion animation process, these sets and the model characters residing therein achieved an uncanny balance between real and surreal, something that works perfectly within the framework of the story.

This balance is present in many of Gaiman’s literary works, especially “Coraline”, because it is written in a way that is more like the memory of a bad dream than a well-written story – after all, the Other World is a lot like a dream itself, with its depiction of a reality that seems pretty normal, but has its obviously off-putting changes. It’s hard to achieve that surreal, dreamy quality in live action, but with animation, the sky’s the limit. Perhaps no better example of this is the climactic battle between Coraline and the Beldam. The entity’s effortless morphing is something that just couldn’t have been as perfect as stop-motion.

Ultimately, the stylistic key to achieving a faithful adaptation of one of Gaiman’s stories is to make it animated. It can be stop motion, hand drawing, CGI, or any combination of the three. However, if “Coraline’s” enduring popularity and acclaim is anything to go by, the filmmakers should consider forgoing live-action altogether, instead replicating the author’s dreamy, surreal writing style at through the unlimited possibilities of animation.

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