Saturday, February 14, 2009

Coraline: Movie and Book

Movies made from books are hard. I loved Matilda, and was surprised to love it. Usually I just avoid movies made from books I love. I still think the Lord of the Rings books are better; I only ever saw the first movie. Only ever needed to see one. But Coraline was pretty great, although it was strange to see a movie of a book I have read aloud so many times, having taught it to several classes of sixth graders. I realized, as I was watching the movie and recognizing which lines of dialogue came straight from the book, that I know Coraline better than just about any book ever. I've read it out loud multiple times, and discussed it in depth with so many engaged readers. I loved it before teaching it, and had no idea how much more I'd love it after teaching it. My students loved it, connected with it, made these great associations and came up with their own amazing interpretations that hugely deepened my appreciation of it.

I am sad, now, that next time I teach Coraline, many of my students will probably not have the images they create in their heads as they listen and the illustrations by Dave Mckean as their first associations when they think of the characters. It might not be entirely a bad thing that instead of remembering my voice reading it, they'll remember the actors' voices, but it's such a book that leaves space for the reader to fill in the world. There is so much there that is left to the imagination for the reader to complete, making it his or her own book. The movie doesn't entirely take that away, but...

I'm also thinking that it could be fun to read the book with students and then show them the movie--I've done that with Miracle's Boys, and of course showing and discussing different film versions are an intrinsic part of how I teach Romeo and Juliet. But Romeo and Juliet is a play. Plays are meant to be seen and heard. I've used the miniseries of Miracle's Boys in part to talk about what's different, what works and what doesn't. I could do this with Coraline too. But I don't know--part of me wants Coraline just to be its own thing. Its own book.

I am still thinking about this, I can't articulate it well because it's not entirely articulated in my head.

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