Anticipating something wild

Is it too early to be excited by the film version of Where the Wild Things Are? The adaptation of the book written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak is directed by Spike Jonze and due out October 16, 2009. I've collected a few choice links below for those who want to geek-out with me.

Some are wincing at the prospect of a beloved book being warped on screen. I think any film that can pack the same speaks-to-you/stays-with-you punch as the book would be a feat. Maybe the film will fall short, or maybe it will stick the landing. Either way, I'm looking forward to it because I expect to see something daring, passionate and personal.

From an interview with Spike Jonze:
One of the things I was worried about is that the book is just so beloved to so many people. And as I started to have ideas for it I was worried that I was just making what it means to me, and what the book triggers in me from when I was a kid. And I’d be worried that other people were gonna be disappointed, because it’s like adapting a poem. It can mean so much to so many different people.

And Maurice was very insistent that that’s all I had to do... just make what it was to me, just to make something personal and make something that takes kids seriously and doesn’t pander to them. He told me that when his book came out, it was considered dangerous. It was panned by critics and child psychologists and librarians, because it wasn’t how kids were talked to. And it took like only two years after the book was out that kids started finding it in the libraries, and basically kids discovered it and made it what it is. And now it’s 40 years later and it’s a classic. So he said you just have to make something according to your own instinct.

In his acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal, awarded for American picture books for children, Sendak said:
What is too often overlooked is the fact that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions...fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives... they continually cope with frustration as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.

It is my involvement with this inescapable fact of childhood--the awful vulnerability of children and their struggle to make themselves King of all Wild Things--that gives my work whatever truth and passion it may have.
The remarks above were found in this article about Wild Things and child psychology.

If you wish to watch Sendak speak at length about his life and work, check out the interview he did with this Bill Moyers. It covers the Sendak's childhood, his fatalism, his faith in art, and the inspiration for Wild Things. Thanks to Dana Stevens from the Slate Culture Gabfest for sharing this link via facebook.

1 comment:

sharock said...

i've been excited since they announced spike jonze as director and eggers on screenplay.