Genre is a category of film or literature characterized by a particular style, form, or content.
Throughout several movies, you see similarities in story, narrative, settings, or plot. Listed are examples.
- Thrillers usually rely on suspense and has an exciting plot.
- Science-fiction relies on futuristic technology, space exploration, future social changes, aliens, super-powers, overlap with superhero genre, etc.
- Crime/mystery relies on a crime being solved or focus on the lives of police detectives or the criminals they pursue.
Theme is a central idea in a piece of writing or other work of art. For example in Coraline, the main themes I believe Neil Gaiman wanted to put forward were dissatisfaction and identity. There's also the element of "Be careful what you wish for" as well.
Coraline was very dissatisfied with her life which is why she went into the Other World. While there though, she had to have had a strong identity to preserve especially when going through the challenges against the Other Mother.
For themes, they would be:
- Family - Coraline's parents are really busy and tend to ignore her; she's often left alone to entertain herself and even take care of herself. But then Coraline discovers an alternate set of parents who pay her tons of attention and cook her delicious food. Sounds like a good trade, right? Well, Coraline quickly figures out that it's a rotten deal. Her own parents might have their flaws, but they're still her parents. And Coraline loves them enough to fight hard to get them back from the cruel other mother. Coraline teaches us that, when it comes down to it, family is irreplaceable.
- Courage - Coraline is up there with the most courageous kids of all time. As she explains, what really makes you brave is doing something even when you're scared. In Coraline, our heroine has a special kind of courage, fighting back against the other mother totally alone. In the end, her courage gives her more confidence, which of course will mean even more courage in the future.
- Fear - The stuff Coraline goes through to rescue the ghost children and her parents gives us nightmares. Coraline herself gets scared – a lot, actually – but she manages to deal with her fear very well and always keeps on keepin' on. Usually, she pumps herself up with little pep talks. She reminds herself that she's brave, that she's an explorer, and that she can't give up.
- Home - At the beginning of Coraline, our heroine is bored at home: her parents are too busy for her, the place she lives is dull, and she has exhausted all the exploring there is to do. It takes being in a crazy and super scary alternate world to make Coraline realize just how much she appreciates her real home. The real world might be dull sometimes, but it's home for Coraline. This is a common trope in literature and film. "There's no place like home..."
- Versions of Reality - The other world in Coraline is a strange version of that reality that Coraline knows well. It has the same people, the same house, and the same garden; but something's just not quite right. This world seems so much like reality precisely because it was custom made to be that way. Luckily, Coraline is pretty discerning: she knows that if something seems like reality, but just the best version of it, it's probably too good to be true. This knowledge allows her to see what a sham, or fake, the other world really is. But there's something more to think about: if the other world really exists, isn't a reality in itself? Is it the other mother's reality? Or reality for the three ghost children?
- Identity - When you're totally on your own – like Coraline is – you need to have a super strong sense of self to get you through things. In Coraline, our heroine doesn't have friends or family to rely on, so she learns this lesson pretty quickly. She doesn't need other people to know her in order to know herself: even if everyone forgets her name, it doesn't mean she isn't Coraline. And of course, other people's identities become an issue for Coraline, too. Who is the other mother? What is the other mother's identity in relation to Coraline's real mother's identity? And the three ghost children? Can they have identities if they don't even have names? Coraline is struggling with all of these questions, all the while trying to save the day.
- Dissatisfaction - Boredom and dissatisfaction are great ways to start off a story. Dissatisfaction often leads people to look for something to do, and that something often gets them into serious trouble. Coraline starts off feeling ignored and lonely. So when a weird hallway appears behind a mysterious door, Coraline take the opportunity to cause some trouble. She's curious and fascinated by the other world, but she also quickly realizes she wants to go home. After surviving a very scary adventure, Coraline seems cured of her dissatisfaction: it turns out excitement and adventure can be a bit over-rated.
- Choices - Choices are really important in Coraline. After all, Coraline makes some pretty big decisions in the story, and a lot of small ones, too (like what to have for dinner!). Her first, and most important decision is one that changes the entire story: she chooses not to stay in the other world after her first visit. If she hadn't made that choice, she would have been in deep trouble and we wouldn't have had our story. Coraline always seems to have a choice in the matter: she doesn't have to save her parents or the other children, but she chooses to. Even though Coraline doesn't have total control over the situation, she does decide to be brave and at least give it a shot. And it turns out she made the right choice.