Henry Selick Talks ‘Coraline’
Writer/director Henry Selick gave Toon Zone an interview in preparation for the release of his stop-motion animated adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.
During the wide-ranging conversation, Selick nicely compared a book and a film, saying,
“books have a kind of language with internal dialogue and things like that; how do you bring that to a screen? Ultimately, it resulted in creating another character, this annoying neighbor kid Wybie. It’s a dangerous thing to do that to books, but I just could not find another way to flesh out Coraline. Just the cat in the real world? She didn’t know he could talk. So it took a long time, but I’d like to think Wybie went from a device to an important character. And he has a backstory that is connected to the house, so it pays off nicely.”
The book features a girl who discovers another reality just on the other side of a door in her home. The 2002 novella earned the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers.
“The two most important things in adapting that I wanted to keep was holding onto the essence of Coraline and not making her overly heroic,” Selick explained. “Not making her Kim Possible, giving her incredible fighting skills. It still had to feel that she’s skeptical. She doesn’t trust adults. Ultimately resourceful, brave, and tenacious. That was the most important thing to hang onto. The book was written over many years; it was actually inspired by Neil’s older daughter, when she was growing up, and then his younger daughter. So she actually seems to change ages in the book. I always liked that, and I think kids can regress, so she can say to her father, ‘I’m not five years old!’ and then act exactly like a five-year-old. Also, the relationship with her real mom. The real mom at the end of the book is not suddenly nice and caring and warm and touchy. She’s the same. There’s no real lessons learned; she doesn’t remember being rescued. It’s Coraline who sees everyone in a new way – she appreciates them.”
The film will open February 6, 2009.