Gaiman’s Coraline has gone from cult classic to timeless classic since its release in 2002. We all relate to a kid that doesn’t get enough parental attention, and Coraline’s heroic journey — to rescue her kidnapped parents, free the souls three lost children, and destroy the wicked Other Mother — is as epic as any taken by Hercules, Odysseus, or the Knights of the Round Table.
Coraline shares many themes with these classic tales: it’s about sacrifice and bravery, and being careful what you wish for. Coraline learns that sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you almost lose it.
“It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning, and it is astonishing how fragile that can be.”
Coraline also learns the importance of working toward your achievements, and the Zen art of The Journey over The Destination.
“ ‘You really don’t understand, do you?’ she said. ‘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?’”
Coraline is a beautifully rendered trip into a surreal world that feels a bit like a Tim Burton fever dream, or The Brothers Grimm in a bad mood. But Gaiman’s vision is uniquely his own. The Other Mother is as wicked a witch as any conjured by Disney, Mother Goose, or L. Frank Baum, and Coraline is the kind of hero you never tire of cheering for.