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Headscratchers: Coraline
  • From The Film of the Book: Wybie mentions that his grandmother doesn't rent to families with children—she seems to realize something in the house preys on children, including her long-gone sister. It's never explained why Coraline's family is an exception, or why she doesn't intervene once she's realized (because of the missing doll) that Coraline's in danger.
    • I always construed that as the landlord not wanting to deal with certain liabilities from having kids running around. #1 is the presence of a poorly-protected well. It doesn't appear that grandmother knew the doll had anything to do with her sister's disappearance.
    • Easy. Does it appear that the grandmother has even met Coraline? Or that her parents actually told the Grandmother that they have a kid after finding a big "No kids"?
    • It is never a good idea to turn down tenants in a recession.
    • Or, of course, her parents could have simply "forgotten to mention" they had a daughter. The place being simply too good a deal to miss out on.
    • This troper assumes that the grandmother knew exactly, or at least had a good understanding of, the disappearance of her twin sister. Somehow, the grandmother also learned of the use of the doll, which spy on the Other Mother's newest victim. Therefore, she allowed Coraline and her family to move in when the doll was safely in the trunk back at home, thus, the Other Mother could not spy on Coraline and create a world around her. If only Wybie had simply let the doll be...
    • Better yet, why didn't she do anything to destroy the key? If she knew that it opened the only way into the Other Mother's clutches, why did she leave it in plain reach of anyone who went in the house? She may have been deathly afraid of entering the house after what happened to her sister, but that was when they were kids (at least 50 years back), she had all the chance in the world to walk in and get rid of it in the conveniently nearby well, but she instead left it in the key drawer. She clearly didn't expect a cleverer kid like Coraline to come and outwit the Other Mother as proven by the "No Kids" policy, so there's no real excuse for this.
      • Perhaps she didn't realize the key was in the drawer? She did lock the door and wallpaper over it, so throwing away the key seems like the next logical step. Maybe she just accidentally threw away the wrong key. Or, even if she did get rid of it, it has a way of eventually finding its way back to the door, the same way circumstances conspired to deliver the re-sewn doll to Coraline.
      • If that's the case, then how can we be sure that throwing it away in the well at the end of the film would have stopped it coming back?
      • I like to pin my hopes on what the Other Mother screamed as she was trying to beat her way through the door near the end: "I'll die without you!" Wybie's grandmother locked the door and kept the Other Mother from getting any more children for decades. Maybe she was already nearly starved to death by the present day; that might be why the Other World started winding down so quickly, and why she was so impatient for Coraline to join them. The Other Mother used the last of her strength to try to get Coraline: when Coraline defeated her and relocked the door, the Other Mother was doomed.
    • Maybe she hoped one day she could find a way to bring her sister back, which Coraline did. Hence she left the key where it could be found.
  • So in the movie version (still haven't read the book), Coraline seems completely unfazed when she realizes she's discovered an alternate universe where her parents have buttons where their eyes should be. Any sane person would be freaked out, at least initially. I know she "thinks she's dreaming", but you don't react to stuff like that when you really are dreaming.
    • Unfazed? Re-watch the scene where she first meets Other Mother, she gasps and takes a step back, saying "You're not my mom!" in a pretty freaked out tone. She must have thought it was a dream (the blossoming mice, button eyes, dad's musical number) and played along. It's worth noting she's pretty freaked out in that first visit because of the insta-rain and thunder Other Mother calls down. Even still, the assumption it's not a real place lasts her approximately three more visits and a lot of frustration at home before she starts seeing not just as real, but preferring the Other Mother's world to her own (and she's still suitably horrified when told she needs to get button eyes to live there full time).
    • I usually figure out that I'm dreaming when something really weird happens in a dream.
    • Some people do "react to stuff like that" when dreaming. One person might freak out over button eyes, while another might simply go, "Okay, button eyes, sure," and still someone else might not even notice at all until waking up and remembering.
    • Coraline actually has less of an instinctive reaction to the Other Mother's button eyes in the book, where she doesn't even make a comment about the button eyes. The only way to explain this is that she really thought she was dreaming and was acting much like Alice did in Wonderland. I actually prefer the movie's depiction of the other world to the book's, as it's more plausible that Coraline would want to stay there with all the wonderful things going on and only a hint here and there as to the Other Mother's true intentions until The Reveal, than in the book where the inherent creepiness and wrongness of the other world is much more apparent (the rats' song alone should be enough of a warning bell to anyone).
      • Having read the book I felt as if the whole thing was written in the style of a fairytale. fairytales, to the best of my awareness have this certain... way of being written, where strange things like little girls being eaten by wolves or old women being killed for their Tinderboxes, being described in a somewhat matter-of-fact tone. Thats the way Coraline the book felt to me when I was reading it. It made the whole thing a little more creepy.

  • Why bother changing "find the ghost-children's souls" to "find their eyes" for the movie? The fact that there was still only one of each and they didn't exactly look like eyes(except for being spherical) just gets me - what was the point of changing just what they were called?
    • For Symbolism, in the Other World, you lose your real eyes when you don the buttons. It can also mean that, since "the eyes are the window of the soul", when you are wearing those buttons your soul is missing or trapped, and the ghosts needed those eyes to become free.
    • I always assumed it was because the subject of souls can be a sensitive one, and the writers might have been worried about Moral Guardians getting upset at the idea of children missing their souls. Although talking about souls doesn't really seem all that serious in light of the rest of the movie, you have to keep in mind that people will get up in arms about really abstract/minor things at times.
      • That really can't be the case. In the movie the ghosts explicitly say: "Find our eyes and then our souls will be free". Clearly they didn't fear to reference to souls directly.
      • There's a weird line for some people. Hinting that souls are "trapped" is one thing, while saying that they've been completely removed is another. The difference doesn't matter to most people (either way, the soul isn't in a position it should be), but you never know. At least looking for eyes still makes sense for the plot, but what confuses me, as the first bullet points out, is why they changed it to eyes, yet still kept the number at three. The three kids each had both eyes sewn over, so logically Coraline should look for six (I know, this would lengthen the movie, unless they kept the eyes in pairs).
      • A lot of people equate ghosts and souls together, and in their mind having the souls be trapped someplace that wasn't behind the mirror would have meant that the ghost children couldn't have appeared where they did.
    • Upon reading this comment, something occured to me. Perhaps the eyes were sort of "stored" in twos in the objects Coraline had to collect. This could get around her finding only one eye per ghost. I don't really know, just a sort of theory I came up with.

  • In the book, Coraline's parents seemed more distant and uncaring. But in the movie, her parents seem almost cruel, especially the way her mom treats her. The "dingbat" comment in particular leaves one to wonder why these two wanted a daughter in the first place. Sure, Coraline's a bit annoying and bratty, but what do you expect when all you do is tell her to get lost? If your work is that arduous, why have children in the first place? I'd hate to think who took care of the girl when she was a baby.
    • Because in the movie, this is not permanent. They are in a very bad situation after the Mother's incident: they are behind schedule on their book, 'and have spent much money on hospital. If the books isn't ready/ well appreciated, it would be a ruin. Note that once the presentation went smoothly, the mother DID buy those mittens for Coraline, and now they were in for a party. And yes, they ARE angry at Coraline that she cannot stop complaining just this time when they are struggling to finish their book.
    • Cruel? No. Exceptionally stressed, under a lot of pressure, and dealing with a restless, sarcastic daughter who - like most kids her age - either doesn't understand the situation or just doesn't think she should have to be patient when they dragged her all the way from her real home? Yes. It isn't as if Coraline is a toddler who needs constant supervision, and her parents do make efforts to reach out to her; they just don't have a lot of time or resources at the moment, and they've got everything staked on their work (and paying the bills, and buying what necessities they can) so that they don't starve/get evicted/lose their only source of income. Hence why, after the book is safely sold and they can relax, they have time and resources to spend with/on their daughter.
  • Just a minor one, but with the attitude Coraline's parents seem to have toward her doing/wearing anything too unusual, why would they let her dye her hair blue?
    • Their attitude can also be described as one of benign parental negligence, so it's not too implausible.
    • It's possible that they didn't so much care about what she did with her hair or what she wore, but the gloves weren't necessary and they were under some financial pressure (as stated above), so they couldn't afford any indulgences at the time (note that the gloves were purchased once the pressure was off). As for what she was doing, again, they were stressed and under a lot of pressure at the time, so of course they'd want her to behave herself for a while.
      • Adding onto the glove/financial situation thing, did anyone else notice how much the gloves were? If I remember right, they were around $26.99! Even if the family weren't struggling financially, that'd be a ridiculous expense.
    • I know it sounds stupid, but I figured it was just her natural hair colour.
      • In one shot of the movie you see a family photo that shows Coraline with brown hair.
  • In the book, isn't the policeman Coraline calls after her parents dissappear downright unrealistically dismissive? Yes, Coraline explains her predicament in child-like terms, but wouldn't the alarm bells start to ring in the man's head when she tells that her "other mother" has taken her parents? That sounds like a pretty serious custody-related crime: a kidnapping or murder.
    • Yeah, but I'm pretty sure Coraline said her parents were trapped in a mirror. It's a possibility that she might have sounded quite young so would have been dismissed. Not forgetting that emergency numbers, sad as it is, do get prank called so something as outlandish as 'my parents have been trapped in a mirror by my other mother' would be seen as someone taking the mickey.
      • I wasn't so much confused about the policeman being dismissive (hey, it would sound like a prank or a child's imagination running wild to most people), but more annoyed that they got a call from a young child and still didn't bother to at least send someone to check and make sure she wasn't alone. It's not unheard of for a kid to witness something and retell the events in a way that they can understand (thus the "trapped in a mirror" comment).
  • I know this probably sounds stupid, but is it ever explained just how the other mother managed to grab coralines parents? I got the impression that she had little or no power in our world and it's not like Coralines real mom and dad are going to crawl into the little door. Not to mention the fact they don't seem to realize they were gone and the wierdness of the spoiled food. Is this explained in the book?
    • It's been a few years since I've read it, but if I recall correctly it's not explained in the book. Her parents reappear just as mysteriously (that is, with the why of it being obvious but not the how) as in the movie. I think there were a few hints that the other mother did have some power in the real world, however weak, but I'm not sure.
    • Being it is a Neil Gaiman book the Fair Folk tropes are heavy in usage here so The Other Mother is most likely a True Fae and her power does extend to the mortal realm but probably only to the house and it's surroundings, hence why she cannot just cross over and eat children everywhere..
    • Clearly she can cross over into the real world since she sent her disembodied hand through the door. The only reason she didn't come through completely is because Coraline locked the door and she isn't strong enough to break it down. So she could have just physically grabbed the parents and dragged them back into her world. But that doesn't explain why she made a doll of Coraline's parents or why they don't remember being kidnapped. I'm also not sure about the spoiled food. At first I thought that it was to show that a significant amount of time had passed in the real world while Coraline was gone in the Other World, but none of her neighbors or Whyby comment on her having been missing for a few days so who knows.
  • In the movie- why IS the door so small?
    • So adults can't get through it. The Other Mother has no use for them.
  • What's with the Schizo Tech going on? They have an ancient computer and everything looks a little backwards and run-down, so you could almost figure this was meant to take place in the eighties or nineties. And then you have a flip-open cellular phone. Okay, late nineties early zeroes. Then you have... a brand new VW Beetle? The computer's the most weird thing, since even if they were financially strapped they'd almost have to do better than that, especially if they actually wanted it to interface with a printer of any quality.
    • Everything is backwards and run down because it's the middle of the countryside. Besides, it's not unreasonable that Coraline's dad just emails his files to Coraline's mother so she can print them from her laptop. As to why he needs such an ancient computer? Well, they are completely strapped for cash so they have to make do with a crappy old model. It's not Schizo Tech: it's modern day, it's just that everything is bought cheaply/not repaired, which happens pretty often in the middle of nowhere.
    • Who's to say they NEED a fancy printer? It's not like they're going to be printing the book themselves, and they'd be mailing the manuscript to the publisher, most likely.
    • Maybe her dad prefers using a crappy old computer for writing because he personally prefers using older software? George R.R. Martin himself prefers writing his books on an old MS-DOS computer while using a modern laptop for internet browsing and e-mails.

  • Why don't Coraline's parents swap household jobs with each other? Charlie is obviously a terrible cook, and I would think cooking might be less strenuous on Mel's neck than cleaning would be.
    • He seems less bad and more... esoteric.
The cat's age bugs me
  • How old is that cat exactly? I mean by what he told Coraline about the game between him and the Beldam it sounds as though he tried to help or at least warn the three children that died before her because of the Beldam, and the three ghost children all look as though they are from different time periods, so that cat has got to be centuries old, right? And if so what is he? Some kind of magic cat that was created to fight the Beldam or what? 'Cause normal cats don't live that long.
    • The book that the movie was based on was by Neil Gaiman. The man does write some weird things, and the cat most likely was some kind of fae folk creature disguised as a cat. At least, that's my best bet, not having read the book.
      • No, it's just a cat. Cats are magic.
  • I think I know what happened to the Beldam exactly: She fell down the well. It has been explained by Wybie before that if you go down the well, you can see stars during the middle of the day. So maybe Beldams hand lured Coraline into throwing the key down it? It also explains why the doll Beldam released looked like it was floating in space.
The Cold EquationsHeadscratchers/LiteratureThe Count of Monte Cristo

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