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Fall has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember. I honestly find myself waiting for it all year long, and when it finally rolls around, I love to fully immerse myself in everything autumn. I know a lot of people feel the same way — whether it’s a favorite cozy cardigan, a signature seasonal Starbucks drink, or a festive fall movie, we all have certain traditions or activities that we reserve specifically for this time of year. For me, one of these traditions is watching the 2009 stop-motion animated film Coraline.

I’ve adored Coraline since I first saw it as a child. It’s a film filled with eccentric characters, captivating cinematography, and intricate stop–motion that I fall in love with every time I watch it. It’s been over ten years since its initial release, and I still find myself noticing new details with each viewing. However, these aren’t the only reasons why Coraline is my favorite fall movie. It’s not even because of its somewhat spooky, Halloween-esque aesthetic. Instead, the film’s storyline and message are what makes it feel so perfect for fall.

For those who haven’t seen Coraline or forgotten what it’s about, the movie follows Coraline, an 11–year old girl, as her family moves to a new home. She’s bright and unconventional, and it’s immediately obvious that she feels bored, lonely, and neglected by her busy parents. 

While exploring her new house, Coraline happens upon a small door in the wall, which leads her to an alternate world. This world is an idealized version of her own, and another set of parents — with button eyes — live on the other side of the door. The difference is that these parents are deeply interested in Coraline, and they give her the undivided attention she longs for. Throughout the film, Coraline travels between these two worlds, until she eventually uncovers the truth about the Other Mother…she’s an evil, shape-shifting creature who steals the souls of her children victims.

Eventually, Coraline is able to defeat the Other Mother through courage, wit, and the help of her neighbors and a talking cat. When life returns to normal, her parents have finally finished their work and celebrate with her by going out to dinner. They tuck her into bed and gift her with the pair of gloves she’s wanted since the beginning of the film. We can gather that after her frightening “adventure” in the Other World, Coraline finally feels content with the reality of her own life.

Although her initial situation isn’t ideal, Coraline learns that life could be much worse. She learns to forgive the past and move forward with gratitude, and to me, fall is the perfect time to do just that. Although many people view spring as the season to start fresh and experience personal growth, fall is actually the start of this process. As a transitional season, autumn provides the opportunity to reflect on the past and realign your priorities. It is a time for letting go of the past and moving forward with high hopes for the coming year. For those that celebrate Thanksgiving, the season is also a symbolic time of gratitude for what we have, especially time spent with loved ones.

It’s for these reasons that Coraline’s message seems perfectly timely for fall. I love when art leaves room for personal interpretation, and as I’ve gotten older and begun to explore the spirituality and symbolism behind the seasons, my connection to Coraline has grown. It’s gone from being a nostalgic movie perfect for the “spooky season” to a reminder to stay grounded and release the negative thought patterns that keep me from being present in my life. Too often, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about the ways life could be better, but all this does is prevent us from being happy with what we have in front of us — this is the exact thought process that leads Coraline to fall into trouble in the Other World.

Because I now associate autumn with a time of letting go, I make an intentional effort to cleanse myself of the things that don’t serve me, especially time–consuming negative thoughts. Instead, I try to implement mindfulness practices into my life, especially during transitional periods like this season. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and sometimes I forget to stay grounded and practice gratitude. That’s where Coraline comes in, serving as a perfect reminder of what the season symbolizes.

Emily is currently a Senior at the University of Pennsylvania. She's majoring in Sociology and minoring in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. She loves concerts and crystals, and spends most of her time listening to music or rewatching the same 5 movies she's loved since high school.
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