A Wrinkle In Time

I almost feel as though there is no way I can possibly be fair to this movie. I (like many, I’m sure) read this book roughly eleventy billion times when I was a kid. And I wasn’t sure how well I’d remember it after all this time (I don’t think I’ve cracked its cover in about three decades) but I did. I remembered it well enough to notice not just when scenes were changed but when lines were changed.

That being said, this movie was by no means for me. It’s for a new generation of kids, coming up and finding their own wonder in the universe. And in spite of my (minor) frustrations and my (#pretentiousOld) substantial case of ‘but the book!’-ism, I really enjoyed this movie.

They did omit at least one major scene and at least three major characters that were in the book and I absolutely understand why they did that. I understand far less that they took one of the many adult female figures in the book and had her played by a male person.

However, the production was beautiful. The costumes were breathtaking and the scenery was full of beauty and light. I thought they did a great job with the casting – I enjoyed very much the multi-racial family Disney turned the Murrays into. The film was moving and engaging. I started crying in the first five minutes when Meg and her father are talking about their family adopting a little brother.

“Out of the whole universe he found us and we found him,” her father earnestly tells her. And that is part of the message the film conveys – all the things that make up the specialness in each one of us, including our doubts, our faults and our loves.

The Murrays weren’t the only place the film introduced more diversity. Mrs. Who, one of the beings of power who sends Meg on the film’s main quest, speaks only in quotations. In the novel, as I recall, the quotations were mainly from poets of Western canon, Shakespeare and the bible. The movie drew from many more sources for her quotes, and I thought that was grand.

I was sad that the film omitted one of the few non-pretty characters, Aunt Beast (they give her kind of a shout-out at the very beginning, but that’s all). Her importance in the novel was vast and while I understand why they took out the scene on her planet (it’s kind of an interlude, plot-wise), I thought she would have helped to sell the seriousness of the danger in Meg’s quest and also the importance of taking care of oneself before one can take care of others.

Anyhow, I feel sure that the movie coming out will not only introduce a lot more kids to the characters who meant so much to me growing up, but will probably get a lot of them to read the novel as well. Both may stand alone and not have to represent each other. For any of you who may be concerned about this, I thought they did a good job of broadening the religious themes (such as they are, A Wrinkle In Time is one of L’Engle’s least religious novels, in my opinions) to something universal.

I will be very interested to see if there’s a director’s cut of the film available at any point. Director Ava DuVernay clearly approached the material with love as well as with an eye to modernizing and broadening its message. I’d be very interested to learn more about why she made the choices she did. And I’ll be looking for more of her work in the future. The only other film I’ve seen of hers is Selma and it’s so different it’s difficult even to get a handle on her artistic style based on these two examples.

All in all, the film is well worth seeing. And I hope that a lot of kids do in spite of the backlash any film that diversifies an older property gets.