November 26, 2017

A WRINKLE IN TIME, Political Leanings and Stories for Young Girls Today

Posted in Pop Culture at 8:19 am by chavalah

Fourth and final installment in my 2017 #NaNoBlogMo project!

Storm Reid as Meg Murry

My second Chris Pine post this month is a lot more on point. 😛 It involves his new movie, A Wrinkle in Time. The new trailer just dropped on November 19!

So there are plenty of little Jewish girls who fall for Christian fantasies. 😛 THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and THE LORD OF THE RINGS are pretty big regardless of gender. But ever since I was 11 years old, my personal fave was Madeliene L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME. To be fair, there is something of a universalist appeal to the novel, like the part where Jesus is named alongside secular people and other religious figures like the Buddha, something that more conservative Christian groups have railed against. But the whole good vs evil theme, complete with the witches as guardian angels, is pretty stark. It might be a little too simplistic and without nuance for my adult tastes, but then I remind myself of what drew me to the story as a child—the characters. Meg, Charles Wallace, Calvin, Dr. Murry, even the witches are all good folks, and they are all flawed. They make mistakes and they grow from them.

Just recently I’ve come to realize something that is perhaps obvious—some libertarians take the book as an inspirational text. L’Engle does, after all, make a strong case against a Big Brother Is Watching sort of Soviet-style groupthink, and the novel came out during the height of the Cold War. Though apparently, according to L’Engle’s granddaughter, she cut out a three-page segment that alluded to the dangers of a both dictatorships and excessive security measures in democratic countries…perhaps something akin to a Muslim ban or building a large border wall. 😛 Either way, the book wasn’t meant to be a simple allegory.

Politics is a fraught subject, and to jump back to my last post, briefly, I think my inspiration for it got a little lost in the shuffle. Star Trek is predicated, in part, upon the idea of complete racial equality in government, and it seems obvious to me that we can’t get to that point if there isn’t at least civil protest in this age concerning police brutality against Black men. So I felt a little bit of a disconnect when some social conservatives on Facebook complained about the Discovery cast supporting people who “bend the knee.” In this case, however, though I’m not libertarian myself, I understand why this novel might appeal to them. I, myself, reading this book as a 5th grade assignment, equated the novel’s oppressive conformity to something even more universal than communism—grade school. OK, that’s a little cheeky, but there is also some truth to it–I’ll let Angus explain it to you. As an adult I started calling my condo board Camazotz after they decreed that none of us could have welcome mats or too many external decorations, so let’s hope none of them stumble across this blog, teehee.

So even before we brush upon the idea of a film adaptation, there certainly is a lot of room in this novel for various interpretations. But there are some benchmarks of which, as a book lover, I am particularly possessive. I’ve talked in some other blog entries about my concerns about the Disney film, and I thought I would continue with that here. Though I’ll predicate the following with a bit of a disclaimer—I don’t think that this book can be adapted.

The primary reason that I believe this is because of the character, Charles Wallace. He is a five-year-old child prodigy and although Meg is at the center of the story, he is the reason that the witches come to Earth. I haven’t seen Deric McCabe, who plays Charles Wallace, say any lines in any of the trailers and frankly that doesn’t surprise me. I think that it might be an impossible role to fill, unless perhaps we could go back in time and snatch up Isaac Hempstead-Wright, aka Bran Stark from Game of Thrones. 😛 And even he was too old when that show started!

So fine, the movie witches might, in fact, be a lot more interested in Meg than they are in Charles Wallace if I go by what Oprah’s Mrs. Which. (Sidenote: Oprah is generally a fine actor, but it’s disconcerting for her to have so many lines in these trailers. It’s a little heavy-handed.) Mrs. Which implores Meg to “be a warrior,” and this will probably be my most ideological quibble with the movie. And even there I am being a bit nitpicky, because L’Engle’s text certainly refers to “a grand and exciting battle” being waged across the universe and how Earth has some great “fighters” (where the Jesus and Buddha and others quote comes from.) But these “fighters” are religious figures, artists and academics, not your typical warriors. That word shifts the focus towards something aggressive, and away from the book concepts of creativity, intellect and love.

And I’m not sure I can blame director Ava DuVernay, writer Jennifer Lee or even Disney, exactly, because it’s been a trend in recent years, to cast young girls as aggressive, physical heroines. That’s certainly not how I, growing up in the ’90s, viewed Meg. But maybe Storm Reid’s Meg will be more akin to my beloved Katniss from The Hunger Games: she looks like a one-dimensional action figure, but there is actually something deeper going on in the narrative. Already, I’m excited for Reid’s scenes with Chris Pine. I do think that we might miss out on some of the brother/sister dynamics, because really canon Charles Wallace cannot be played, but we might get more of the father/daughter relationship. Eeee!

So yeah, expect a review of that movie in March! I’ll probably post it to my reading and writing blog since I’ll be comparing the adaptation to the book. But stay tuned, right here, next month, for my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi! And next #NaNoBlogMo, I’ll most likely be reviewing the new Harry Potter film, which now has a name: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald! Raising my geek flag high. 😀


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