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|Aliases:||Other Mother, Belle-dame|
|Skin Color:|| White (first form) |
White-light (second form)
Light (third real form)
|Affiliation:|| Pink Palace |
|Voiced by:||Teri Hatcher|
The Beldam, as referred to by the ghost children or otherwise known as the Other Mother as she first introduced herself as, is the true main antagonist of the novel as well as the film adaptation. In the film both Mel and she are voiced by Teri Hatcher, and by Amanda Troop in the videogame.
Unlike the real Mel Jones, the Other Mother was definitely more fun and also appeared to be better at cooking, offering Coraline exotic food that she found very delicious and tasty. However, after Coraline had told her real mother it was the perfect time to go gardening in the rain (which she only said to have something to say), the Other Mother made her first mistake by suggesting to play in the rain. Coraline noticed her tapping her fingers on the table, which she had found rather suspicious. However, she overlooked it when the Other Mother showed Coraline a better version of her room and cured the poison oak rash. When Coraline visited the neighbors, the Beldam made more entertaining versions of them, showing that the Other Mother paid careful attention to Coraline's liking.
After Coraline's third visit to the Other World, the Other Mother finally said that Coraline could stay in the Other World forever if she sewed buttons on her eyes. When the Other Father tried to say to Coraline that it wouldn't hurt, the Other Mother was seen kicking the Other Father under the table with a face of displeasure. When Coraline refused and lied about being tired, the Other Mother showed patience and told Coraline, "Soon, you'll see things our way," which was the beginning of the Other Mother's action into changing.
After talking to the Other Father, who seemed to have become rather different and gloomy, Coraline saw the Other Mother in the living room, expecting her. The Other Mother forced Coraline to accept her love to which Coraline refused again, and finally, the Other Mother's appearance began to change and became more like her real one.
While the Other Mother appears good at cooking, she is never seen eating. When both Coraline and the Other Father have a full plate and eat from it, the Other Mother never puts anything on her own plate. She was only seen eating a coco beetle and attempting to eat Coraline like she did to the ghost children, this is because of her true form of a spider in the movie.
The Belle-dame's appearance had never really been very specific. In the book and film, it is said and shown that she looked like Coraline's mother, which presumably is what she does to lure children. The Belle-dame must have taken the form of the children's mothers in order to gain their trust, fooling them into believing her lies. She, in the book, is described with skin as white as paper, her fingers were too long, and her nails had blood-red nail polish.
When first met by Coraline, the Other Mother strangely had the same appearance of Coraline's mother, Mel Jones. Except: her physical attributes were better than the original, such as, being prettier and healthier, wearing red lipstick, a more stylish haircut, a mole right above her lips, red nail polish and a lack of bags under her eyes which were replaced by black buttons instead, and more accented curves (mainly due to the lively clothing she wore, unlike the real Mel Jones, whose appearance was rather dull.)
In the book, the Other Mother was described as such: She looked a little like Coraline's mother. Only . . . Only her skin was white as paper. Only she was taller and thinner. Only her fingers were too long, and they never stopped moving, and her dark red fingernails were curved and sharp. This in-book appearance has a similarity to her second form in the film.
After Coraline refused her love and said that she was not her mother, the Other Mother stood up and transformed into a longer and more terrifying version of herself with her rib cage showing. Her hair had also become quite unnerving, and the back had turned pointed. Furthermore, her fingers became much longer and her nails had become sharply more pointed and her mole/beauty mark got a little bigger and moved to edge of her face.
The second form is hinted at a scene earlier, when Other Mother picks Coraline up after the Miss Spink and Miss Forcible show. Other Mother's dress shows a hidden abdomen-like part that that even shows red marks like a redback or widow spider.
By the time Coraline had found all the Ghost Children's eyes, the Beldam was finally in her real form. The appearance was much like her second form, only scarier and more unbecoming. Her paper white face was marred with cracks and her cheekbones were sharper and lost her mole/beauty mark. Her body possessed an excessively thin waist and bone-like chest. Her hands had also become metal claws being made out of needles, which were seen in the beginning of the movie, and she gained 2 extra legs and she stood taller and hunched with a display that resembled a spider.
At first, the Other Mother is shown to be rather sweet and considerate, greeting Coraline with sentimental and caring persona. Over time, however, as Coraline rejects sewing buttons into her eyes, her personality slowly begins to erode and warp, showing a more sinister light in her behavior. She becomes less patient with her, becoming less sweet and more obsessive in her goal to eat Coraline and trap her spirit like she did to the ghost children. According to Shommp, the Other Mother does love Coraline, but does so possessively. This has been showed throughout the text, when Coraline admits the Other Mother does love her. Though this is similar to a pet with obsession. This has only been explained in the novel.
It is implied that she is very sadistic and cruel to her creations, turning the Other Father into a pumpkin-like creature to scare off Coraline and forcing him to manage the praying-mantis tractor machine to fight off Coraline's search for the eyes, as well as stitching Other Wybie's mouth into a crooked smile as punishment for frowning when "saying goodbye" to Coraline.
A constant in her personality (aside from her obsession with Coraline) is her love of games, allowing Coraline the risk of finding the ghost-eyes and her parents for the sake of the game. She seems to tap her fingers on a surface whenever it is brought up, implying excitement from the idea.
However, it is known that she does not play by the rules and prefers to resort to cheating. That or, at least, try to sabotage her victim's efforts.
She also seems to hate cats - referring to them as "vermin" - though this could be because of how easily they can benefit from her world.
In the book, it was implied that the Beldam had been a sadist ever since childhood, shown when she swore on her mother's grave.
Powers and Abilities
The full extent of her abilities have yet to be revealed, but it is clear she has near omnipotent (and mild omniscient) power over the Other World and all of its inhabitants. She has the power to create life, ranging from people to animals and fully animate plant-life. How they behave seem to depend, as the animals and plants seem to be under her full control, while certain human-creations like the Other Father and Other Wybie have some kind of free will. It is implied that she hand-made the Other World in the same manner as an artist and a sewer would, every living thing in the Other World possessing button-eyes and other Wybie's hand being made of sawdust beneath his glove.
The Beldam is also apparently able to kidnap and temporarily store the parents of her victims, as Coraline's parents were held captive by the Beldam in the The Snow Globe, and emerged without any memory of the experience.
She has the power to shape-shift, first taking the form of her victim's mother (albeit more lively and inviting) and slowly transitions into her true form overtime, slowly deteriorating like the rest of her creations. It is shown that her buttons operate as fully-functioning eyes, becoming blinded and relying on her sense of hearing to navigate when the cat clawed them off.
She is also able to possess the souls of those she has claimed, the ghosts of her previous victims trapped in the Other World unable to pass on.
Despite her immense powers, her abilities clearly has their limits. Apart from her creations acting upon their own free-will should they try it - nearly compromising her plans on more than one occasion - she is also unable to replicate the key to the doorway in and out of the Other World, having become trapped when Coraline locked the door forever.
Beldam History and Folklore
Beldam, or Belle-dame is another word for witch, although the two are not exactly the same thing. A beldam has been referenced in several legends across the globe. A reference to Romanian folklore is made at http://comenius-legends.blogspot.com/2010/07/valva.html :
" God gave Beldam (Muma Pădurii) the designation to stand for the forest and inhabitant away from people unkindness. The Beldam is a spirit of the forest in a very ugly and old woman's body. Sometimes she has the ability to change her shape. She lives in a dark, dreadful, hidden little house. In time, however, the Beldam started to hate foolish people increasingly because they have destroyed what she was trying to defend. If she primarily scared and ran them out, altogether she got to kill indiscriminatingly those who she has met walking in the forest. The Beldam had a girl, The Forest Girl (Fata Pădurii). She is a demon who attracts the young people in the forest, where she kills them. She has two appearances: for the first time when she appears to them, she is a young and very beautiful woman. After the victim is charmed by her beauty, the Balder transforms into a hideous and tremendous monster, she kills the young and eats his heart because only like this she can keep her youth appearance. She came out only at night and she never gets out the forest, so she never attacks the people villages but only those who pass through the forest. "There is also a legendary figure known as Goody Cole who was said to be a Beldam. The source for the story is here. http://www.sacred-texts.com/ame/lol/lol146.htm.
It would appear that the location for the film could be an adaptation of a valley in Yosemite, which can be connected to the image in this story, as found on the link provided.
These references shared themes with the story. Themes include: shape-shifting, child destruction, and being buried in a pit (well). The writing of Coraline may have taken some essence of this legendary figure into the construction of the antagonist.
- "We've been waiting for you, Coraline."
- "Black is traditional... But if you prefer pink, or vermillion or chartreuse... you almost make me jealous."
- "Sharper than a serpent's tooth is a daughter's ingratitude. Still, the proudest spirit can be broken, with love."
- "In each of three wonders I've made just for you, a ghost eye is lost in plain sight."
- "So... you're back. And you've brought... vermin with you."
- "Don't leave me! Don't leave me! I'll die without you!!!!"
- The name Beldam might have been taken from the French word belle-dame, which means "beautiful lady". However, there are other connotations such as belle-mere which literally translates as "beautiful mother" but also means "step mother," and the archaism that means "hag."
- The Seamstress in the film 9 was a nod to the Other Mother in Coraline. Both films were created by Focus Features.
- It could be possible that, since her creation, the Beldam relies on the souls of the children to continue existing, to the point that she becomes increasingly desperate and more impatient to get Coraline to sew the buttons on her eyes. This is shown when she screams that she will die due to not getting Coraline.
- The Other Mother was #9 on IFC's list of Worst Mothers in movies.
- Teri Hatcher describes The Other Mother as the perfect opposite of Mel Jones, she can cook and do many other things Mel can't. Teri said it was fun playing a character who starts out nice then becomes not-so-nice.
- Whenever the Other Mother prepares regular human food, it is shown that unlike Coraline and the Other Father, she is not shown eating any of it, either having an empty plate or having no plate at all, preferring to keep her attention on Coraline. The only time she is ever shown eating in the book or movie is when she eats a live cocoa beetle(s). This could allude to her spider-like qualities, having an interest in bugs and viewing Coraline as her willing prey.
- In the novel, Coraline admits that The Other Mother did truly love her though like a dragon loves its gold.
- The Beldam, in the climax of the film, she calls Coraline a "horrible, cheating girl". Which is quite hypocritical, considering that she attempted to do so.
- A Youtube channel called The Theorizer has proposed the idea that the Beldam could have had a son, and that it could have been the Boring Blue Boy.
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