50.5 F

Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Playlists that embody “Coraline,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Giver”

Crafting three playlists for my three favorite movies

The following playlists are not the soundtracks to these films, but rather songs that evoke the tone and message of my favorite films: 

Movie #1: “Coraline” dir. Henry Selick `

When it premiered in 2004, “Coraline” was labeled as a fantasy/thriller, and for a good reason. The seemingly harmless children’s movie isn’t for children at all. When I watched it as a child, I was frozen with fear. But as an adult, I love it. It’s creepy and unsettling, but the visuals are beautiful and the storyline is brilliant. 

When Coraline Jones moves away from her sunny town to rainy Oregon, she discovers a secret door in her house that leads to a colorful life exactly like hers — only better. As the days go on, Coraline visits her alternate world every night, and it progressively gets more charming. But when she gets caught between the two worlds and her “Other Mother” asks her to stay, things get out of hand, and Coraline has to face her fears to save her family. 

Neil Gaiman, the creator of the eerie tale, admitted on Tumblr that the book was deemed too scary by his literary agent Merrilee Heifetz and was almost not published at all. It was only after convincing his agent to read the book to her children that it was purchased by Harper Children’s. Years later, when Gaiman attended the opening night of the “Coraline” musical, Gaiman was sitting next to Heifetz’s youngest daughter and he thanked her for her fearlessness. She replied, “I was terrified. But I needed to find out what happened next. So nobody knew.” The movie was always too scary for kids and it still might be, but it’s worth a lifetime of traumatizing thoughts. 


Spirits” -The Strumbellas

“Something to Believe in” – Young the Giant 

“Nightmares” – Easy Life

“A Dream of you and me” – Future Islands 

“Meet Me In The Woods” – Lord Huron

“Bottom of the River” – Delta Rae 

“Toes” – Glass Animals

“It’s Called: Freefall” – Rainbow Kitten Surprise

At the surface level, “Coraline” is a kid’s story about appreciating the family you have and making the best out of a cloudy situation, a vibe that is felt in these songs. The songs have a nice, positive beat: They’re essentially feel-good dance songs. But after a closer listen to the lyrics, you’re laying down, plastered to the couch, awaiting the worst — exactly like “Coraline.”

Movie #2: “Pan’s Labyrinth” dir. by Guillermo Del Toro 

I first watched “Pan’s Labyrinth” with my mom when she forced me to sit down and watch it with her — as my mom frequently does. The movie follows Ofelia as she embarks on a journey to prove that she is the lost princess of a fairytale land. But what’s going on around her is what makes the story more interesting. Set in Spain in 1944, when the Allies invaded Nazi-Europe, a brutal group of soliders are led by Captain Vidal, who was sent to sqaush a group of rebel soldiers. Vidal brought along his pregnant wife, Carmen, and young stepdaughter, Ofelia, who witnesses the cruel comings of war and a sadistic leader. Although the movie follows a young Ofelia, it is rated R, so viewers be advised. 


Nightshade” – The Lumineers

“Dancing in the Moonlight” – 2001 Remix Toploader 

“House of Gold” – Twentyone Pilots 

“Dancing After Death” – Matt Maeson

“Dirty Paws” – Of Monsters and Men (Coincidentally, this song is rumored to be about World War II.) 

“Hopeless Wanderer” – Mumford and Sons 

“Monster” – Dodie

“Who Are You, Really?” – Mikky Ekko

Unlike “Coraline,” I’ve never felt as if “Pan’s Labyrinth” was nowhere near a children’s movie. It’s too dark, and focuses largely on World War II and their sociopath for a captain. But it still has an enchanting tone — there are fairies and a fawn, although not quite the fairytale version of them. There are a couple of supernatural-esque songs mixed in with the harsh truth. The movie is also in Spanish, but don’t let that stop you from watching it on Netflix. As Bong Joon Ho wisely said during his Golden Globe acceptance speech, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Movie #3: “The Giver” dir. By Phillip Noyce

Please don’t hate me. I know that the movie isn’t nearly as good as the book — I know, I get it. But there’s something about this movie that never fails to make me happy. Whether it’s the gradual transition from black and white to color, or the enamored scenes Jonas witnesses or even that Taylor Swift makes a small cameo, I will never know. But I always feel 10 times better when I watch the movie. It gives me a new appreciation for life, and I will never turn this movie down. 


Power Hungry Animals” – The Apache Ray 

“Like Gold” – Vance Joy 

“Life in Color” – OneRepublic 

“Everything Now” – Arcade Fire 

“I Bet My Life” – Imagine Dragons

“Would That I” – Hozier 

“Two” – Sleeping at Last 

To twist things up, I added a happy playlist with just a hint of desperation. The songs reflect the casual contentedness that everyone felt in Lowry’s world with a mix of Jonas’ need to feel what others could not. 

Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here