A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books as a kid. I read it over and over, then tracked down the sequels and gobbled up many more of Madeleine Lâ€™Engleâ€™s fantasy- and science fiction-tinged novels for young adults.
But I hadnâ€™t touched it in more than 20 years, maybe closer to 30, when the excitement began to build around a new Disney adaptation directed by Ava Duvernay. A few months ago, I finally returned to the story of Meg Murry and her interplanetary search for her father, a scientist whoâ€™s disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
What I realized is that A Wrinkle in Time is a very weird book. It combines supernatural fantasy and interstellar travel with a strong dose of Lâ€™Engleâ€™s Christianity; it treats charactersâ€™ encounters with strange aliens and their sincere discussions of Godâ€™s plan for the universe with equal seriousness. And again, this is all in the guise of a novel for children.
Plus, it moves so quickly. The initial scenes, which introduce of Meg and her family, move at a relatively leisurely pace, but once we meet the mysterious visitors Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, and once theyâ€™ve explained how they travel by tesseract, itâ€™s only a couple of pages before Meg and her friends are â€œtesseredâ€� beyond the solar system. Then, after just a few more pages of travel and exposition, they arrive on the mysterious planet of Camazotz, where they must enter a sinister, totalitarian society and find Megâ€™s father.
Latest Crunch Report
The Last Episode Of | Crunch Report
Watch More Episodes
So maybe itâ€™s not surprising that more than 50 years passed before the novel was adapted into a big budget feature film, or that critics and audiences seem to have been underwhelmed by the movie. How could anyone, particularly someone hoping to sell millions of tickets, successfully capture Lâ€™Engleâ€™s idiosyncratic vision?
Some of the bookâ€™s flaws have simply been carried over to the screen â€” the plotting can feel arbitrary and thin, and the whole thing wraps up rather anticlimactically.
Meanwhile, the adaptation creates problems of its own. For one thing, it may have been inevitable that the film would cut the bookâ€™s overt Christianity, but without it, the discussion of good and evil feels particularly generic and treacly.
For another, Megâ€™s younger brother Charles Wallace was always going to be a tough sell. But at least in the book, his intelligence seems a genuinely unsettling. The movie, on the other hand, transforms him into just another cute prodigy, one whose constant, cheerful explanations had me gritting my teeth.
More broadly, as a reader, especially a young reader, I could swallow most of the bookâ€™s implausibilities, thanks to Lâ€™Engleâ€™s simple style â€” I rarely questioned her narrative choices, just as I wouldnâ€™t cross-examine the logic of a bedtime story. But blown up on-screen, with big stars and fancy special effects, the silliness seems harder to ignore.
To make matters worse, the elegance of Lâ€™Engleâ€™s storytelling is sometimes swapped out for conventional Hollywood drama, a change exemplified by the filmâ€™s explanation of tesseracts â€” what was an easy-to-follow conversation in the book, complete with unforgettable pen-and-paper diagrams, has become a technobabble-filled PowerPoint presentation at a scientific symposium.
But even though I wanted to like the film more, I still canâ€™t write it off completely, I canâ€™t deny that Duvernay has made a real attempt to capture the bookâ€™s strange beauty. In its best moments, the movieâ€™s Camzotz is just as eerie as the bookâ€™s. And while it may seem odd or even laughable to see Oprah towering over the other characters as a giant version of Mrs. Which, or to watch as Reese Witherspoonâ€™s Mrs. Whatsit morphs into a enormous, flying vegetable, itâ€™s also beautiful, daring and weird in a way that feels true to Lâ€™Engle.
And while I assumed that Wrinkle was inherently a story tied to the 1950s, Duvernayâ€™s adaptation shows the core narrative to be surprisingly durable and adaptable. Lâ€™Engleâ€™s (implicitly) white cast of characters and their home in the New England countryside have been replaced by a biracial family (Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw play Megâ€™s parents) in 21st century urban America, but somehow, it all still feels like A Wrinkle in Time.
And Megâ€™s pain, her prickly intelligence and her bravery in the face of Camzotzâ€™s evil have all made the transition intact. They feel as real, and as resonant, as they did when I first encountered them decades ago.
Featured Image: Disney
- This content has been curated by a panel of tech experts including:
- Oscar Fleming CTO at SEO Link Express
- Kelli Frederick coder at Web Market Central
- Steve Myers inventor of The Results Driven Metric
- Lori Jordan Sys Admin at TopSEO Key
- Andres Rogers Big Boss of IndexBoss
- Justin Irwin Managing Editor of Public Tech News
The Panel was hand-picked by the News World staff to represent some of the best minds in the industry and each member brings a unique perspective to the table. In-depth discussion and debate lead to the choice of each technology news topic that News World shares.
The post Disneyâ€™s â€˜A Wrinkle in Timeâ€™ captures just enough of Madeleine Lâ€™Engleâ€™s unruly magic appeared first on News World.