everysecondtuesday: glasses and milk tea in the morning (Default)
[personal profile] everysecondtuesday
Tomorrow morning I'm leaving to see [personal profile] bessemerprocess, then going from her place to see a really good friend from college. This weekend is going to involve lots and lots of travel each day, but it will totally be worth it. This weekend is also White Collar! So basically I am a bundle of excitement for all of that.

I told a couple of people I would write up a review of the movie Coraline, which I recently saw with [personal profile] lizfu. Non-spoilery version is that overall, I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would, really liked the animation style, and was both happy at the inclusion of Wyborne (and his grandmother and great-aunt) and also horrified by a few faily things I don't think the creators thought through.

At first, I was hesitant to see Coraline at all because of how much I loved the book. My copy has some amazing illustrations, and I was pretty sure the movie couldn't compete. Surprisingly, it really did. I especially loved the animation style of the cat and the mice.

When [personal profile] lizfu first saw the movie in theaters and I asked about it, she mentioned they'd added a friend for Coraline and that she thought I wouldn't mind that particular change to the books. And mostly, she was right! I love Wyborne. (I also loved his grandmother, because even though you only see her once in person, her fingerprints and personality show up again and again.) He shone in every scene he was in. I loved how clearly it came through that he was always going on adventures of his own, the scene where he hunted the slug, his friendship with the cat, how excited he seemed to be about life and its mysteries, but how that didn't mean he was always going to blindly follow Coraline.

His counterpart in the Beldame's world, however, I had some issues with. Rather, not with him, but with the film's treatment of him. I made the closest face physically possible to D: when the other Wyborne was introduced and COULDN'T TALK. Because Coraline liked him better that way.

Here's the thing. If Wyborne had been another White girl, a White guy, I probably wouldn't have had this reaction. But Wyborne is not white, and there's a history of Black voices being silenced, and this is never addressed by the film. Instead, Wyborne's counterpart spends most of the movie happily helping Coraline out to his own consistent detriment, for no particular reason I can discern (current guesses based on very little evidence is that maybe he was lonely and maybe he wanted to strike back at the Beldame). There were other things, too, including his body being hanged from a post, killed because he disobeyed the Beldame--and the hanging thing gets me, too, because hello, historical contexts, anyone--and also more, but that silencing of his voice and the filmmaker's decision not to address it was the defining moment of thoughtlessness and privilege for me.

Past that, I didn't have many more major problems with most of the film. Coraline's treatment of Wyborne (example: always calling him "Why were you born") made her go from a sulky, but sympathetic character as she was in the books to someone I wouldn't much care to know and was even less interested in watching, but otherwise her character seemed mostly intact. The animation of the dog's teeth was so much like human teeth that I spent every scene in which their mouth's were open cringing and attempting to hide behind my hands in horror. I'm pretty sure they weren't supposed to be the creepiest part of the film, but it meant [personal profile] lizfu got further entertainment out of a re-watch by getting to laugh at me squeaking in horror.

The funny thing is, the thing I was most worried about was the thing I enjoyed most: the animation. Dog's human teeth aside, it was really well done. The cat was spot on perfect. Wyborne and Coraline mimicking the head to the side motion was also perfect. All of the Wonders, the big scenes, were gorgeous (though I admit I spent half of the scene in the theater averting my eyes because so many dog human teeth). The scene with the garden in which it lit up as she wandered through was stunning, and the return to the garden as it lay wilting and dying was an excellent counterbalance to that original splendor and really emphasized the changes the Beldame's world was going through.

If I watched this film again, I would watch it for the animation and for Wyborne. It being Yuletide season, I actually am considering checking if it's nominated, because there really needs to be fic of Wyborne and his grandmother out there in the world, being awesome.

October 2017

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