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The Other Mother. October 14, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in books, Coraline, Films, Neil Gaiman.

Last night, Princi and I snuggled under the duvet to watch the Coraline DVD on our tiny portable DVD player. That is Princi’s favourite way of watching DVDs, she is forever waking up before me, diving under my duvet and asking to watch Doctor Who. Anyway, she was all excited, bouncing on the bed exclaiming ‘Ooh, I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I can’t wait,’ in a squealy high pitched voice. Chuffed at her excitement (she’s never been so excited to watch a film before, not even when we’ve gone to the cinema), I asked if she wanted to watch the 3D version. No. She didn’t like the glasses. 2D version it is, then. I started the film, Princi rested her head on a cuddly Triceratops and she watched, completely enthralled. I have never known her to stay so quiet or still while she’s watching a film!

The Other Mother appeared on screen. I thought that would frighten her. Nope. Then the Other Mother started getting nasty. Nope, still not frightened. I asked her ,’Would you like an Other Mother?’ To which she replied with a big, squeezy hug, ‘No. I just want you, Mummy. You’re my real Mother, and Grandand is my real Grandand. I don’t ever want you to go away.’ I had to smile at that. Then the Other Mother turned into a horrible spider-type thing. Still Princi was not scared. It was only when the horrible spidery hand started chasing Coraline right at the end of the film that she was frightened. She grabbed me in a Princi bearhug and hid her head under my arm. I told her she should carry on watching because it would all be okay. She peeked out and watched the scary bits and was very relieved when Wybie helped Coraline defeat the spider hand. Then she clapped and smiled at the happy outcome of the film. She even wanted to watch it again before she went to school this morning.

I am so glad we sat down to watch it together and that I didn’t just do a Coraline’s parents thing and leave her to watch it on her own. We had lovely huggles throughout the film, some ‘wow’ moments and some giggle moments, but most of all I was glad that she was not afraid to tell me when she was scared. I’m looking forward to watching Coraline with Princi again.

As for my opinion on film versus book – I’m more a fan of the book than the film. I can see why the introduction of Wybie was necessary (no other children in the book, apart from the ghost children) – and it also seemed to show how the attitudes of the parents, particularly the mother (what a snarky bitch!), had rubbed off on Coraline. She was very terse with Wybie and wouldn’t listen to him just as her mother was with her. It was also interesting that the only time she would really listen to Wybie was when he couldn’t speak. I would have prefered that the rats stay rats and were not disguised as jerboas, although cute it took away from the distinction of mice=good, rats=bad in the book. Although the relationship with her parents seemed more rounded in the film, the book seemed more sinister – esepecially with the rhymes of the mice and rats, and the change in location from basement to garden for the escape from the Other Father felt less scary.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. It seemed like Little Red Riding Hood (as everything does at the moment!), Alice in Wonderland and Tom’s Midnight Garden all rolled into one. But when all is said and done, give me the book over the film any day. Probably because I’ve read or listened to it so many times before having the chance to see the film that my imaginings of the story are much stronger than the imagery – albeit fantastic and imaginitive – provided by the film.



1. Dad Who Writes - October 17, 2009

Dudelet and I saw it in 3d in the cinema and though he was quite scared by the final battles, he was similalry enthralled. As I twittered, I think I enjoyed the film a little more (unusually) but Coraline seems a less perfected book somehow than The Graveyard Book. But perhaps that’s often the way when you encounter something in a particular medium for the first time.

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