Coraline Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Dragonfly hairpin, decagon room and other Easter eggs from the cartoon “Coraline”.

“Coraline” by Henry Selick is a strange, bewitching story for children and adults. This is a kind of parody of “Alice in Wonderland”, a terrible story about the dangers of illusions.

The meaning of the cartoon Coraline is how important it is to appreciate what you have. The film shows the complexity of the relationship between a teenager and his parents: suffering from a lack of attention, he comes to a rejection of reality. But the unreal world is no better: behind the illusory happiness lies a huge danger.

Country : USA

Genre : cartoon, film adaptation

Year of production : 2008

Directed by : Henry Selick

Voice : Dakota Fanning, Keith David, Teri Hatcher

Age restrictions : 6+

History of creation

The cartoon is based on Neil Gaiman’s book Coraline. The idea was suggested to the writer by his four-year-old daughter Holly: she came up with a story about a girl whose name was also Holly. One day she went to another world and met a woman who looked very much like her mother. She turned out to be a witch, and the girl managed to escape from her with great difficulty.

little girl coralineFrame from the cartoon.

The uniqueness of the cartoon “Coraline” lies in the fact that it is a puppet – when creating it, computer animation was used to a minimum.

Cartoon director Henry Selick has previously worked on projects such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. According to him, he wanted to make a story purely for children – a little scary, but interesting and instructive. But he turned out to be a real thriller with a hidden meaning, an ambiguous ending and with many interpretations, mysteries and Easter eggs.

What is the cartoon about

Summary. The action of the cartoon “Coraline” takes place in Ashland (Oregon).

The main character, a girl named Coraline, moves there with her parents. The family settles in an old house called the “Pink Palace”. The girl’s father and mother are plant scientists. They do not care about their daughter, and she suffers greatly because of this. Exhausted from boredom and trying to somehow entertain herself, Coraline meets very strange neighbors – a mouse trainer, an alcoholic immigrant Mr. Bobinsky, two old theater actresses, a stray black Cat, and a boy named Zaki ).

Also, the girl goes on a trip around the house, and finds a small locked door. She asks her mother to open it, but discovers that the door does not lead anywhere – the passage is walled up with brickwork.

But at night, when everyone falls asleep, Coraline is convinced that there is life outside the door. Another life. Following one of Bobinski’s trained mice, the girl enters the door and finds herself in the Other World. There she meets Another Mom and Another Dad – an exact copy of her parents, with only one caveat: where the eyes should be, they have buttons. At first, this frightens Coraline, but they treat her not like her parents, who remained on the other side of the door, but with affection and care.

mysterious doorFrame from the cartoon.

In awe of the Other parents, Coraline returns to them the next night and has a lot of fun: in the company of the Other Zaki, she manages to attend the performance of the Other Bobinsky and see the performance with the participation of the neighbors – the Others, of course.

When the Other Mother asks the girl if she would like to stay with them forever, Coraline is ready to agree. After that, the Other Mother sets a condition for her: she will stay with them if she allows herself to sew on buttons instead of eyes.

Seriously frightened, the girl flatly refuses. After barely returning to normal reality with the help of the Other Zaki, she discovers that her parents are missing.

A black cat comes to the rescue, who, as it turned out, easily travels between worlds. It is the Cat who opens the eyes of the girl: she is in terrible danger, because the “Other Mother” is a terrible witch named Beldam, who kidnaps children. Many years ago, she kidnapped a little girl who lived in the “Pink Palace”, and who really wanted to have other parents – less busy and more loving …

Coraline realizes that her parents are captured by Beldam, and, no matter how scared she is, she again goes to the Other World. On the advice of the Cat, the girl offers Belda a game: she must guess where she hides her parents and the souls of the kidnapped children. If she doesn’t guess right, she will forever remain in her lair…

evil witch's lairFrame from the cartoon.

Ending explanation

In the finale, Coraline, with the help of the Cat, saves her parents and releases the souls of the kidnapped children. But the Witch penetrates the real world, and the girl has to give her the last decisive battle.

At the end of the cartoon, Coraline and her parents invite all the neighbors to the party – including Zaki’s grandmother, who once lived in the Pink Palace – her sister was kidnapped by Beldam a long time ago. The cat, who ironically observes everything that happens, leaves for another world.

The explanation for the ending is quite simple: the girl has matured and learned to appreciate what she has.

Important Details

In addition to non-standard puppet animation and deep meaning, the film contains a large number of hidden details.

For example, the Witch’s clawed paw begins to haunt Coraline from the very beginning: this is clearly seen on the poster for the cartoon. Drawing on the walls, ambiguous decorative elements – all this unobtrusively indicates the presence of a demonic entity.

cartoon posterPoster for the cartoon.

Witch Beldam wasn’t always a witch. She once lived in the Pink Palace and was a respected member of society. Once she got into the Other World and began to transform it, while wasting her soul. Having lost her soul, she lost her eyes – after all, they are a reflection of the soul, just like the Other World – a reflection of the real.

Having lost her eyes, Beldam became a prisoner of the pocket universe and began to experience hunger. To survive, she needed the souls of small children, from whom she deceived their eyes, thus depriving them of the opportunity to escape.

So she sought to deprive Coraline of her eyes. She covered her eyes with buttons that had eight holes in a pair, symbolizing spider eyes. Like a spider, she waited for the next victim to fall into her web. By the way, the room in which the small door is located has a decagonal shape, like a spider web.

There is also a special meaning in the details of the wardrobe of the characters in the cartoon “Coraline”. For example, a hairpin in the form of a dragonfly on Coraline’s head symbolizes a connection with the other world. It is noteworthy that dragonflies, once in a web, can eat a spider …

There is also a sense in the musical accompaniment of the cartoon. It has 7 songs, two of which are sung in a fictitious language. The song of the Other Pope deserves special attention. Already in the first verse it is said that the song was written especially for Coraline. This means that she is being warned: listen to the text carefully – this will help to be saved.

other parentsFrame from the cartoon.

In the next line, the Other Dad reassures the girl that he is her friend and does not want to harm her. After that, he abruptly switches to the topic of buttons instead of eyes, thus trying to warn the girl about the impending disaster. He then sings that if Coraline stays with them, she will never be bored. The answer is simple and creepy: he hints that the girl will remain in the monsters’ lair forever.

The second song that plays at the very beginning of the cartoon “Coraline” resembles a gloomy lullaby. But this is not a lullaby, but an ancient spell: the Witch calls the girl to her.

It is sung, according to one theory, by ghost children and the Other Pope. The song is about a different, upside down world. At the end of the song, it says in plain text: “Do not enter the door – you will get into trouble.” At this point, the party of ghost children and the Other Pope ends, and a certain woman – most likely the Witch, begins to sing her part.

Having understood the intention of her captives, she pretends to be a kind mother, and, wanting to lure Coraline into her trap, hums simple, unpretentious words.

cartoon meaning

Coraline experienced a lot of stress in connection with moving to another city. Her parents tried their best to earn money, and worked hard, did not pay attention to their daughter. The girl felt unnecessary, and therefore saw the world in gloomy, gray tones.

There is a theory that the heroine was on the verge of suicide.

In the Other World, where she ran away from the dreary reality, she felt so good that she did not want to go back. That is, the girl had suicidal thoughts. And only when she was on the verge of death, she completely revised her attitude to life.

The essence of the cartoon is that we often see the world the way we want to see it. But we must not live in illusions: we must act and achieve our goals in order to make our personal world a better place.

The main character escaped from the world of Beldam. That is, the meaning of the ending of the cartoon “Coraline” is that she was able to defeat suicidal thoughts and begin to live in the “here and now” mode.

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