Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Neil Gaiman and "Coraline"

We took ourselves off to the cinema on Sunday evening to see the wonders of 3D, brought up to date in "Coraline". My last, and only, previous experience of 3D at the cinema was way back in the genre's eariest days in the 1950s: "House of Wax" with Vincent Price. With a pair of cardboard spectacles on my nose, one lens red t'other green, I felt I was going cross-eyed and didn't enjoy the experience one little bit.

We felt that technology having sped ahead as it has in the last 50-odd years, things 3D-wise must have improved in leaps and bounds. We decided to find out.

Things have improved, for sure!

Plastic spectacles now replace the cardboard and red/green lens of the old days, they are to be left for re-cycling after the show. 3D effects in "Coraline" were truly special. The most dramatic effects were used sparingly - items seem fly right off the screen and settle somewhere just beyond the seat in front of you. For most of the time, the 3D effect was kept subtle, simply adding depth to the scenes, not detracting attention from the storyline.

"Coraline" is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's graphic book of the same name. The movie has received very positive reviews, so far.
I admire Neil Gaiman, his work, and his style. My post from August 2007, "Stardust" and Neil Gaiman investigates his natal chart. He has Sun/Mercury/Neptune all within a 9 degree spread of Scorpio. That's a condensed version of who he is : Scorpio reflects the darkish flavour of his storytelling, even when it's in the form of a tale for children. Mercury, the writer's planet is close to his Sun (self). Neptune, planet of creativity, dreams, imagination lay close to Sun and Mercury. That Scorpio trio provides a thumbnail sketch of this talented writer. (More at the earlier post, linked above.)

I notice that transiting Pluto is currently conjunct Neil's natal Jupiter at 2 Capricorn. Robert Hand in his book "Planets in Transit" says that this conjunction can denote great success in any endeavour or it can mean that people in power will strongly oppose efforts.....depending on what the native is trying to accomplish and how. It would seem that the first option fits best, in view of "Coraline's box office success. Most commonly the transit works out well with a rebirth of optimism and hope, especially if working on something beyond personal glory, which will benefit society at large. The transit can also mean a re-birth of faith and spirit in the life of the native.
(Chart shown is set for 12 noon in the absence of time of birth).

I was amazed by the technology and amount of work involved in the production of this stop motion animated movie. Animation director, Henry Selick did a wonderful job. I enjoyed the premise of the fairytale plot with an embedded message. Yet, I still feel unable to say the movie was as excellent as it could have been. Parts of it dragged a little. The husband agreed on this. For my taste, the film would have been very much better at around an hour or an hour and 10 minutes, cutting around half an hour from current length. I understand that Neil Gaiman's book is short enough to read at one sitting, which indicates to me that trying for 1 hour 40 mins of run- time might have been a bit of a stretch. A shorter movie with an accompanying mini-cartoon might have filled the bill better, at least for our tastes.

Children will love the movie, though I think parts of it might be a tad scary for the very young ones, especially those of sensitive nature.

One other tiny complaint - there was no credit roll of the cast members at the end of the movie. We had to go home to the computer to find out which voice belonged to which of the stars listed at the beginning of the film. I'm still not certain which of the two eccentric ladies was Miss Spink and which was Miss Forcible (voices by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders). Perhaps a second viewing of the movie, in DVD form, is needed to straighten out remaining doubts and queries.

Neil's blog/journal is HERE. He mentioned the other day that he's also on Twitter. How does he do it all?

I think the best of Neil Gaiman in film form is still to come. He's brilliant, prolific and young enough to have many more movies in him.


Wisewebwoman said...

I'm a great admirer of his and once Coraline came off the presses I got a copy for the g-girl and read it to her. She loved it.
there was a lot of chat amongst her peer group about this movie and all were intending to go, mainly to see the claymation. I'm of 2 minds, I loved the book but don't want it destroyed by a movie.
they must have expanded the scenes a lot to make it that long.
What a long post. Tell me to shut up and I will.

anthonynorth said...

Never seen any of these 3D films. Certainly there's some great tech in the industry today, but I sometimes wonder whether tech is replacing story and artistic endeavour.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ I know what you mean. I hate it when I've read a book and formed pictures in my mind of what the characters look like, then see a movie with them all looking entirely different.
(The post wasn't very long, and even if it had been, so what? - Your words are always very welcome!)

I'll be interested to hear what the young 'uns think of "Coraline" in due course.

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ With regard to the technology involved in some special effects (3D included) I think I agree with you, but stop motion animation is something different, with or without the 3D.

There's a lot artistic talent involved and much very intricate work. :-)