Before I Saw the Movie
I was so excited when I saw that A Wrinkle in Time was going to be made into a movie (again). I was excited about the multicultural cast, and I was excited that Disney would have the budget to do justice to the scifi aspects of the story.
But the more I saw the commercials, the more I thought, “That line doesn’t sound familiar.” Oprah says, “Be a warrior,” which I didn’t remember Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, or Mrs. Who saying. And one of the ad lines was “Trust nothing,” which I definitely didn’t remember as a message in the book.
And I read that book a lot. I mean a LOT. For a tween in the 80’s, girl heroes in books were few and far between. I moved from Harriet the Spy being my favorite book to A Wrinkle in Time being my favorite. Not only was Meg a relatable girl (she’s awkward and afraid and she’ll never be as wonderful as her perfect mom) but the book made me feel like there was something cosmically big and important going on, and that I could be a part of the good, and that my part was important.
Not to mention that my BFF and I were a little bit in love with Calvin.
Speaking of Calvin, he’s supposed to be tall and poorly dressed with unkempt red hair. I don’t mind his not having red hair in the movie, but he’s not supposed to be Hollywood cute. These thoughts about Calvin were swimming around my head when I picked up the book for a pre-movie reread. I was specifically reading for traces of “Be a warrior” or “Trust nothing.” Maybe I’d just forgotten those things.
The first paragraphs took me right back to my comfy place. Meg is in her attic bedroom during a terrifying storm. Charles Wallace makes her a sandwich. Mrs. Whatsit says “Wild nights are my glory.” Oh I loved it so much!
But then Calvin shows up. I remember him as such a tragic, lonely boy. This time, when I read about him touching Meg’s elbow protectively at the haunted house, I thought, “Get a grip, Meg. Be a freaking warrior.” Later, Calvin says, “I can function on the same level as everyone else, I can hold myself down, but it isn’t me.” Arrogant much? If (my beloved, sorry sorry sorry) L’Engle had had someone else interpret Calvin like this, it would have made him seem tragic. Instead he’s a little pompous, and I don’t think that’s what we’re supposed to think of Calvin. I flipped to the scene where (SPOILER) Meg leaves to go back to Camazotz and skimmed for the word “Calvin.” Without warning, he “drew her roughly to him and kissed her.”
So maybe it’s time for a change. I think a woman who dared to write for kids about tesseracts and girls who do indeed learn to be warriors even if no one uses that word might even agree. I can’t wait to see what gifts L’Engle and screenplay writer Jennifer Lee together have for the #metoo generation.
After I Saw the Movie
First off, I have to say that Calvin was new and improved. He didn’t call the others “kid” or speak condescendingly. Instead of drawing Meg roughly to him and kissing her, he asked if he could call her later and then hugged her.
I knew that Wrinkle was getting bad reviews, but I purposely avoided reading them because I wanted to go in with no preconceived ideas.
There were some changes (other than Calvin’s attitude) that I thought improved the story. For example, the deletion of the planet Ixchel and Aunt Beast. While I appreciated this chapter as an adult, I remember being totally bored by it as a youth, and it slows the action right before the story’s climax. There were some changes I didn’t understand because they seemed unnecessary, such as Mrs. Whatsit turning into some sort of vegetation batray instead of a centaur. There were some action scenes added, which I understand they felt they needed for a modern movie audience even if I don’t personally need them.
There were only two changes I wish they hadn’t made. One was the way Charles Wallace dragged Meg and her father to “The It,” Meg’s screaming maybe a little too traumatic for younger viewers. The other was taking out every one of Mrs. Who’s Jesus quotes, and I have to admit this is a criticism I accidentally read before I saw the movie. I don’t mind the addition of Gibran, etc. but it would have been nice to leave in one quote from the guy L’Engle followed.
Overall, I don’t know what people are moaning about. (I’ll read about it soon.) This is a notoriously difficult book to adapt for the screen, and there are so few good movies for kids ages 5-12 that I see no reason to bash this one. Meg is realistic and well-acted, the movie is visually pleasing, and L’Engle’s message of love and empowerment remains intact, if the details were changed a bit. My daughter gave it 7.5 stars, and I give it 8.
Reviews be damned. Take your kids to see A Wrinkle in Time.