Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the wild things are...[movie spoilers included but still a must read]

It has taken me several days to process watching Spike Jonze's version of Where the wild things are. I read Maurice Sendak's version to k-2nd grade students all last week, which was good for them and me. It's always good to rediscuss the theme of imagination with students. Many of my students haven't grown up with the book as I did and my own children have. I also showed them the quick Scholastic movie which follows the book exactly.

Our family merrily went off to see the movie on Friday with great anticipation!! We loved the late 70's clothes -it took me back to my childhood. The boy playing Max is adorable, lovable and wild. The opening scenes of him playing in the snow, having a snowball fight with his sister's friends all give a feel of Max's character-obviously more than the book; even as deep as the book is. We witness Max get wild and his wolf suit is perfectly impish! He fit the Max of my imagination, well, until he runs away! He runs away...which goes against everything kids learn from Sendak's book. It's about the imagination! Max takes of down the street to an empty lot with his mom chasing after him. She never catches up to him and Max makes his way to where the wild things are. The wild things are interesting characters, lovable yes, but argumentative, bossy, scared and sad. Max offers himself up as a king who can make everything right in their world. The movie is good maybe even great but it is so not what I expected. It is much darker than the book, which is fine depending on its intended audience. My 6-year-old peaceful girl turned half way through and said "I like the book better, mommy." On the other side of me was peaceful teenage boy and he was riveted, really, really enthralled! He is 14 and he got all these varied levels of community and expectations of life [i overheard him talking] as he talked later with a family friend who also saw the movie the same opening night. My husband and I were disturbed about Max's run down the street-literally running away in instead of running to his room. This sends a different message to kids-let your mom chase you down the street, come back much, much later and you will get chocolate cake and your mom will not be mad at all, only relieved.
I was very sad when I came out of The Tale of Desperaux movie because it was so far removed from the book and I love Kate DiCamillo. This one didn't make me feel that way; I liked it and would watch it again but I was unhappy the writing team strayed so far from original imagination theme. Max could have run to his room and hid out in his bunk bed fort and still had the same encounter with the wild things. And why did they need to change the names of the wild things? Why Carol instead of Barnard???
Have you seen the movie??? What did you think???


Janssen said...

I haven't seen it, but I'm really looking forward to it when I do.

I've been reading this book to my 2nd graders this week and oh my do they love it.

Peaceful Reader said...

They do love the book! I hope you enjoy the movie!! It is so interesting!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I have not read the book or seen the movie, but I want to do both. LOve the cover.

Jenners said...

I heard the movie was pretty dark and maybe not the best for younger kids. I imagine that it was "inspired by" the book more than "based on" as the book is so short. And I don't remember any of the monsters having names in the book -- did they?

Good to hear a teenager was enthralled by it.

I so want to see it!

Unknown said...

I don't want to see this movie at all - I love the book too much. Can't believe there are children that haven't read it, they are missing out - and so are the mom's and dad's not hearing their little ones reading the last words with no pictures "and it was still hot".