Therapist Reacts to CORALINE

Therapist Reacts to CORALINE

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How do you stand up to people trying to manipulate you? How do you do the right thing even when you’re scared?

Licensed therapist Jonathan Decker and filmmaker Alan Seawright compare Coraline’s real mother and other mother to talk about what good parenting looks like and how to stand up to manipulators and fear. They talk about how Coraline is the scariest kids’ movie they’ve ever seen, the amazing stop-motion design and color palettes, and the danger of just trying to escape reality or your problems. Especially if that escape involves button eyes.

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Cinema Therapy is:
Written by: Megan Seawright, Jonathan Decker, and Alan Seawright
Produced by: Jonathan Decker, Megan Seawright, Alan Seawright, and Sophie Tellez
Edited by: Trevor Horton
Director of Photography: Bradley Olsen
English Transcription by: Anna Preis

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48 Responses

  1. Amy Turk says:

    I remember watching Coraline with my boyfriend for the first time and him being horrified at how dark it was. I had told him it was “a lovely film” 😂

    I grew up with a manipulative parent, and so movies and media like Coraline actually make me feel safe, strangely, because I recognise the feeling it conveys, that everything is wrong, even though you’re being told it’s right and you can have everything you want. There’s something about Coraline’s creepiness that I find beautiful, delicious, even grounding. Stories like this help people like me to understand themselves.

    I still get chills every time I watch the scene where Coraline escapes, and the Other Mother screams, “don’t leave me, I’ll die without you!” Because I have met those people in my real life and seen the lengths they’ll go to, to stop you making your own choices. That’s the real horror this film so beautifully illustrates.

    • Raaychiel _ says:

      Yes I love Coraline so much too!! Obviously it was scary when I first watched it as a kid but at the time I’d been more scared by films that aren’t nearly as good. I appreciated the movie for how good it is more than feeling scared and I was kinda obsessed with it for a while. I also have a manipulative parent that tries to “get me everything I want” because that’s they’re idea of being a good parent. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the movie so much.

    • Persephone 🫶🏻 says:

      Same-ish I had it better off than my mother. But she was a bit negligent… sleeping loads and not tending to my needs but she had her reasons… now those reasons are gone and I’m now with an only parent but ever since I was little I’ve loved it even though my siblings were scared by it probably cause I was the oldest so I can relate to you 🙂

    • Elizabeth Franzone says:

      I’m sorry you had to grow up with that. I hope you are doing ok now.

    • Tiffany Kim says:

      @Yami Smol oh that’s f’ked up

    • Tiffany Kim says:

      @LezzyBugO3O oooohhh this hit close to home 😳

  2. Corvatrix says:

    I appreciate that once Coraline accepts the drab, gray “real” world, she makes a conscious choice to implement the things she loved about the dream world (friends with her neighbors, making space for Wybie and his grandma, planting colorful flowers in the garden, etc). Making her waking life more beautiful and doing the work to make it somewhere she wants to be.

  3. Arianna Elmer says:

    I think this quote from the book perfectly encapsulates the message. The other father is trying to convince Coraline to stay, saying she will get whatever she wants. She replies “I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn’t mean anything? What then?” I love how she says it wouldn’t MEAN anything. Life isn’t about getting everything we want but finding true love and meaning.

    • Arianna Elmer says:

      @Machina Owl My heart aches for you my friend. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, although it wasn’t abusive, so I can’t completely relate. I think a safe family is a very valid want. But with Coraline, the “other mother” was exploiting her, so it wasn’t really much better than her original family. Don’t let someone take advantage of you by giving you what you want for the wrong reasons!! I hope that there will be true joy and safety down the road for you ❤️

    • Christian Ali says:

      @Rebecca Conlon the value doesn’t lie in the gift. It lies in the giving.

    • Machina Owl says:

      If I could have a family that wasn’t dysfunctional and abusive then I’d probably choose that in a heartbeat though lol. I don’t really want a lot of things except a safe and calm place to live.

    • Calliope Pony says:

      I was going to comment this quote, but you beat me to it. Deep down we don’t really want to just get whatever we want. We want things to be meaningful and special, and that only works if there are times when we don’t have what we want.

    • BlueHaze says:

      This. Due to the economy and my desire to stop making corporations rich in exchange for my suffering, I’ve tried a minimalistic lifestyle and realized just how much money I was wasting which was getting me nowhere in happiness. A LOT happier now outside the consumerism bubble.

  4. Galaxia 🌌 says:

    I grew up adoring this movie. Not just because my name is Caroline, but because I relate to Coraline personally when it comes to her longing for the greener grass on the other side of the fence. I also love it because it gives me the same mystical, hushed atmosphere as the books I read. Coraline never scared me–it’s always been more magical to me than creepy.

  5. Tara Mooney says:

    I was 9 when the movie came out. I tried watching it, but I started having sleepless nights, and my Mum jokingly banned it from our house. I was 18 when I decided to rewatch it, and it was only when I was older that I could appreciate the animation, the world-building and the storyline.
    I was more terrified of the idea that there could be imposters in my house and someone could take my parents away.
    I am also an identical twin, like one of the ghost children. The idea of losing my twin or her being taken away is horrifying and heartbreaking.

    • M. Josena says:

      @Carolina Herrera I feel bad because I can’t understand why other people are scared though I do feel sadden mainly by thr ghost kid scenes (I’m not an only child but we’re basically the same lmao)

    • Carolina Herrera says:

      omg i was the same age when this movie came out too! i actually BEGGED my mom to take me to watch it. she hated it, but i loved it. in fact a few years later i bought the dvd copy and watched it OBSESSIVELY! i related to coraline, being an only child, left handed, loved exploring, had a complicated relationship with my mom, im sure i wouldve fallen into the web of the other mother so easily. of course it wasnt until i was older that i understood why it was so scary for most people.

    • Persephone 🫶🏻 says:

      That’s really funny for me cause I’ve never been scared of it like EVER besides after the other mother starts to crawl after coralline in the web ugh gets me every time

  6. Miss M says:

    Other Mother is one of the most terrifying antagonists ever. Yes her true form is nightmare material but what’s scary is how charming and nice and thoughtful she could be that you’ll be persuaded into doing things you would otherwise not even consider doing.

  7. Jennifer Wells says:

    As a child (and even an adult) if you are not only neglected but abused you will absolutely grab onto someone who is actually kind and loving to you. When real life is much worse than just being bored or ignored, and after years you know it will never get better, you long for an escape that will never happen. Also, the Other Mother’s name is actually French for Beautiful Woman- Belle Dame

    • Margatatials says:

      reminds me of the Katie Beers story actually, her abductor was the only person in her that showed any interest towards her or was ever bother to listen to her.

    • Machina Owl says:

      @First Last I’ve always felt that way my entire childhood to be honest. Most people would say “oh, well there are things in the real world that needs doing!” because they weren’t dealing with people mistreating them at school and their parents being dysfunctional. It was really like I had no actual escape from all of this crap that was making me feel horrible. I feel like it I focused most of my attention on my reality then I probably would be more neurotic than I already am lmao. People view other people with substance abuse problems and addictions of any kind really as lazy and uninspired, and they can’t really grasp the situations that made the person adapt to these bad coping mechanisms to begin with. It’s a very difficult and brave thing to step away from these things you’ve always relied on for comfort when you weren’t receiving any from the world.

    • Izabela says:

      No, it is “merci” in the meaning of “mercy”. All the Beldam thing actually makes great sense, it was completely lost in Polish translation (“a Witch” instead), probably they thought nobody knows the Keats poem here :/ (I do)

    • Ember AshTalon Animations says:

      @Cyssane Doesn’t that mean “The Beautiful Lady Without Thank You”?
      La, The
      Belle, Beautiful
      Dame, Lady
      Sans, Without
      Merci, Thank you

    • First Last says:

      @bookmasterharry when you have a maladaptive coping mechanism, starting the process of ceasing relying on it is only something you can do once the stressors that triggered that coping mechanism have relaxed for long enough that you can feel safe in moving on. it’s easy to say “escapism is not useful to you anymore” when you are on the outside, unaware of what the individual is actually struggling with.

      we have no context for what jonathan’s friend was dealing with, but whatever it was, the escapism was clearly serving some purpose to helping him make it through the days. he wasn’t yet in a position to move forward, either because the stressors haven’t stopped, or because he doesn’t feel it’s safe yet.

      you can’t move on from the strategies you developed as a reaction to trauma until long after the trauma has stopped.

  8. SapphireWings says:

    They just gave me a free therapy session with this one video. When they started talking about escapism and all that stuff, that kind of made me realize why I’m always so hooked to my laptop. I always get so upset when my laptop is taken away because I don’t have that outlet anymore, that place where I can escape reality. It’s videos like these that make me take a closer look into my psyche which allows me to understand myself as a person more and more each day. Thank you.

    • Erin Carter says:

      Agreed. It hit close to home for ma too. YouTube blurs the lines between informative and escapism. It is a problem I am going to have to get a grip on. What a truth bomb.

  9. Taylor Anderson says:

    I also think it’s important to note that Coraline’s parents have a ton on their plate at the moment. They just made a big move, they had an accident, and their catalog is due. Also, you pick up on the fact that they’re on a budget while waiting for the catalog to sell. I think there are so many little moments where you can see tenderness, but it’s important to note that this is a small handful of moments right after chaos. I would bet that they are good parents who are going through a tough transition.

    • Eldritch Abomination says:

      I would like to add, in the book (assuming I remember correctly) Coraline talks about how her parents used to be before the move, which made it seem less like neglect and more like a temporary issue

    • Kimberly Byrd says:

      100%, and I can relate.

  10. Loren Z says:

    I went to a great talk by someone from Laika (the studio that made Coraline) and found out that the faces of the characters aren’t made with clay, like traditional stop-motion. They’re intricately 3D printed models that are swapped to create different facial expressions. They printed *thousands* of them. It’s part of what makes the characters so lifelike. The faces are so consistent in their expressions, that every little detail is intentional.

    • Isa V says:

      Laika’s got behind the scenes videos for their films on their channel! You can see just how passionate everyone is for every project

    • Meemah_ SN says:

      And the eyes are fucking massive

    • SkipperJane says:

      I believe Selick did the same thing with Nightmare Before Christmas. I remember seeing a picture of a whole box of Jack heads. I’m also obsessed with Coraline’s tiny knit sweater.

    • Larctrinx says:

      Just thinking about that, as a semi crafty person, makes my head hurt. All of that sanding…..

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