Monday, March 02, 2009

Coraline

If you can't stand spoilers, you really shouldn't read this at all. I make no promises to not spoil something. There is a chance that I might not spoil anything at all, I don't really know what I'm going to write other than I am going to write about Coraline. (So I've read over the Blog and there are no Spoilers—feel free to read)

Some background information first.

Coraline is a Novella.

Apparently a Novella is Longer than a Novelette and Shorter than a Novel. I find it amusing that there are such distinctions. I find it equally amusing that there is disagreement among different literary grand-high-mucky-muckies about the defined length and differences. I find it immensely amusing that mostly this boils down to word count.

Coraline was written by Neil Gaiman.

I became familiar with Mr Gaiman when he was working on The Sandman at D.C. Comics. The Sandman was part of what D.C. Comics called Vertigo, a group of comics that were a little more Mature in their themes—marketed to late-teens to early adults. The Sandman was primarily a story about Morpheus, the anthropomorphic personification of Dream. I used to think of Gaiman as a Comic Book Author that went on to write Novels and Film Scripts. Now I see him as I see Walt Disney—a Storyteller that works in any Medium he can.

Coraline the Movie, is Directed By Henry Selik.

What do you need to know about Henry Selik? Directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach and now Coraline. In a world that increasingly turns to the Flash Bang and Pizazz of computer generated 3D animation. Henry Selik keeps pushing the envelope and technology of an old-school style of animation that most consider past its time. I'm drawn to his work in the Same way I'm drawn to Tim Burton's work. It speaks to me in a way that I can't quite put into words.

So, now that I've moved far enough down that any Spoilers will be below the bottom of the browser for most visitors. I can start actually talking about Coraline.

I loved it. I laughed a lot—but I wasn't hearing laughter from those around me. I guess they just didn't get it.

The best way I can think to describe this story, is a Creepy Alice in Wonderland. It had a "rabbit" hole, a Cheshire Cat, "tea" parties, an alternate world, and a Mad Queen.

Part of what these Stop Motion Masterpieces have, that their Computer generated siblings don't is a certain sense of stylization—not only in their visual representation, but in their movement as well. The lack of motion blur in stop motion turns every frame into a work of art.

Another thing Coraline has going for it is the fact that it was shot in 3D. The new 3D technology is leaps and bounds ahead of the 3D of yesteryear. It uses a Digital Projector that is equipped with a special modulating lens called a ZScreen [that I couldn't find much information about] which circularly polarizes alternating right eye and left eye frames at 72 frames per second, per eye (that's 144 frames per second folks). This creates a 3D effect when combind with circularly polarized glasses worn by audience members. You can even turn your head and it won't break the illusion.

What that means is you won't get a headache caused by other 3D systems. Nightmare Before Christmas 3D is still the Best 3D experience I've ever had, but I suspect (since both films used the same 3D technology (Real D Cinema)) that if I had sat further back, the Coraline Experience could have been a little better.

It's Nice that the 3D experience is finaly less of a gimmick. I can only think of one shot in the whole movie that seemed like it was pandering to the 3D experience. The thing with 3D is that they generally purposefully include shots where something comes out into your face, it's forced and un-natural and always feels out of place and unnecessary. I think that's why Nightmare Before Christmas 3D stands out so much, It was a great film long before it was 3D.

What I want to know is, where's my Lord of the Rings and Star Wars in 3D? I read that they were being converted and were supposed to be released starting 2007.

So this Dark and Creepy Alice in Wonderland style story is filmed in 3D, directed by Henry Selik, who directed Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. Interestingly enough—Tim Burton is currently working on Alice in Wonderland—also to be released in 3D. Burton is Making the Film for Disney, says he never liked the Disney version (Walt wasn't terribly fond of it either). It will feature Live action, Stop Motion Animation, and Computer Generated Animation. It is being shot with traditional cameras and will be converted to 3D. Richard Zanuck (Producer) explained 3D cameras were too expensive and "clumsy" to use, and decided there was no difference between converted footage and those shot in the format, which was one of the big draws of Real D Cinema in the first place.

Okay, so I haven't really said much about Coraline. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I've Rambled a lot.

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