Nestled in the wonderful world of Coraline lies a hidden truth. Woven into the strings of its imagination is the unyielding power of oppression. The film was released in 2009 and had various Academy Award nominations, it also won the AFI Award for Movie of the Year. Henry Selick directed the movie, and in this stop-motion film, he created two worlds that greatly mirror themselves. Similarly, the film exposes a parallel between the political world and the seemingly-magical world young Coraline Jones stumbles upon.

Coraline with her doll and her cat, gazing amazed at what lies beyond the small door.
Credit: Coraline; Focus Features 2009.

Coraline is about a young girl who moves to middle-of-nowhere Oregon with her parents. Whilst exploring the new home she finds a small door that leads her to a magnificent place that greatly resembles her own world. However, upon further inspection, Coraline realizes that this new land is different from hers. It is full of wonders and the people who live there have buttons for eyes. Things quickly take a dark turn, and she must use her wits to escape the grasp of the villain responsible for creating the mesmerizing copy of her world.

Not All That Glitters Is Gold

Contrasting greatly from where Coraline comes from, this hidden world is full of everything she could ever desire. So effective is this magical facade, that it is not long before she becomes enraptured by the marvels around her. This other world has a replica of every person in Coraline’s life, however, they have button eyes.

Other Wybie and his friend holding popcorn and cotton candy.
Credit: Coraline; Focus Features 2009.

Comparatively, people living under the rule of an oppressive government also have “button eyes.” Blinded by the wonders around them, they do not register the peril they face. An example of this is the way the government commercializes the production of pro-carbon companies. With the intent to obtain more profit from said companies, the government turns a blind eye to the enormous carbon footprint these companies leave behind. Thus, people must participate in the carbon-fueled market because it is where most of the money is being invested. Going against this flow would prove very difficult, similar to Coraline going against Beldam.

Coraline & Her Other Parents

Coiled dangerously, like a snake waiting to strike, is Beldam. She is the mastermind behind the attractive world the aforementioned child dives into. Beldam poses as children’s other mothers in an attempt to lure them to her so she can collect their souls. Furthermore, the imitation of something that represents security and trust is used as a facade to further a tyrannical agenda. This also occurs with oppressive governments. They become institutions claiming to care about the people’s well being, only to stab them in the back. This can be seen with medical insurance, something the government supposedly helps provides but leaves many in debt.

Other mother and other father at the dinner table.
Credit: Coraline; Focus Features 2009.

Beldam wants Coraline to stay with her forever, always the loving and loyal daughter she envisioned. Equivalently, the leader of an oppressive government endeavor to keep their loyal following, either by means of persuasion or force. An example that emphasizes the parallel between said government and the film, is how Beldam silences those who defy her, like Coraline’s other father.

Beldam’s Puppets

If there is one thing an oppressive power will not stand for its an opposing force. Anything that gets in the way of the agenda they are attempting to fulfill will be mercilessly dealt with. However, more often than not, they are not defied because the people they coerce don’t realize they having their strings pulled in the first place. For instance, Coraline’s other father willingly plays the piano, however mechanical hands move him into doing so.

“This piano plays me,”

Other father
Coraline's other father playing the piano.
Credit: Coraline; Focus Features 2009.

Throughout the film, it is evident that the characters in the other world play to whatever tune Beldam craves. When Coraline’s other father confronts her in the garden, he states that his actions are not his own, he is merely Beldam’s puppet. Identically to the people under an oppressive government, he is merely a pawn in a much bigger chess game. Additionally, when Wybie expresses discontent against what she was forcing him to do, Beldam sews his mouth into a smile (effectively silencing him).

Coraline Knew Which Buttons To Push

Nevertheless, however intricate a web of lies may be, the truth will always shatter it. This is the case with both Coraline and people tired of a tyrannical government. If they are willing to see the facade for what it is, they can no longer be victims of an enamored fantasy.

Beldam glaring threateningly at Coraline.
Credit: Coraline; Focus Features 2009.

Coraline comprehended that she was dancing with danger. She discerned that the only way she would be free was by beating Beldam at her own game. This film truly highlights the power people have against those who seek to make them feel powerless. Although Coraline began viewing that other world through rose-colored lenses, she was smart enough to see that she was being played. Consequently proving that the only way to end an oppressor’s reign is to start a revolution and set their world ablaze.