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Posts Tagged ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

As I’m sure you might agree, books that have been made into movies can have a rather spotty success rate. In my experience, rarely has a movie based on a book been as fulfilling as the book itself though there certainly have been some, and a few surprisingly good at that. There also have been some disastrous movies that had I not read the book first would have dissuaded me from ever reading it. But what about children’s books?

Skellig-DavidAlmondI recently took the plunge and watched movies based on two of my very favorite children’s books, both middle grade – Skellig by David Almond and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. That the Skellig movie had to add on a tag after the title – “the Owl Man” – should have been my first tip off, but I was open.  David Almond is a brilliant writer and won the Printz Award for this particular novel. One of the things that sets him apart is the sense of the unexpected, of magic, that he brings to everything he writes. Where this movie failed for me is that in attempting to reach its audience it felt it necessary to define and explain the unexplainable. The beauty of Skellig the novel was that you were left at the end still not knowing who – or what – Skellig was. Was he a man? both man and bird? an angel? The reader never knows. In the movie, he is more or less defined. And then there were several hokey, (to me anyway), visual machinations, such as Skelling taking Michael for a ride on his back while he flies, and in two instances a kind of spinning in the air where he heals Michael’s hand and later the baby sister. Plus the movie barely touches upon the wonderful and unique character of Mina and her relationship with Michael , nor of that with his friends. In sum, there were interesting things about the movie, but as a reflection of the novel, Skellig the movie fell far short for me.

AWrinkleinTime-MLEngleA Wrinkle in Time fared a bit better in my estimation, but again, the movie couldn’t really compare to the book. I think the movie did a pretty good job of showing the characters of Meg and Charles Wallace, and I enjoyed Alfre Woodard as Mrs. Whatsit, Alison Elliott as Mrs. Who and Kate Nelligan as Mrs. Which. The visuals of the children traveling through the tesseract to get to the different planets couldn’t have had too many ways to show it, I suppose, but it was a stretch. The interesting thing about this movie, made in 2003, is that it was a made-for-TV movie. I suspect it could have been more successful if actually made as a true movie. A Wrinkle in Time, like Skellig, raises bigger issues than the surface story,  in this case, an adventure to save the children’s father. It’s a coming of age story for Meg but also asks what’s most important in life and how can evil be overcome. I think the movie did a very good job of making that clear, especially in the scene where Meg is able to pull Charles Wallace back from the tenacious evil of It. What I particularly enjoyed is that in the Bonus Features that were on the DVD there is an interview with the late Madeleine L’Engle. That alone may have been worth getting the DVD.

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