A Wrinkle in Time, the movie, my thoughts

I had been impatiently waiting to see the Ava DuVernay/Disney production of a Wrinkle in Time. I read the young adult novel as a child and also a few times as an adult. I love the book. As a young black male growing up in Harlem, I connected with Meg Murry, Charles Wallace and the Divine Feminine represented by the characters: Mrs Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit. I finally saw the movie Saturday, March 10th, the day after its official release. I appreciate that the movie was made with a serious budget and talent in front of and behind the cameras, but I was not awe struck by it in the same way I was by the book. I thought the casting was stellar. I appreciate the fact that the cast is multi-racial and that the director is a black woman. A majority of the reviews I have read or listened to were very impressed with the lead, Storm Reid, as was I. The fact that the main character in the film is bi-racial helps many more viewers identify with the struggles of Meg Murry. I wish that Mindy Kaling/Mrs. Who had more original dialogue even though in the book her character was fond of quoting earthly luminaries of literature.

I have read, heard and watched many reviews of the movie: The New York Times, The Huffington Post (1), The Huffington Post (2), The Village Voice ,  a radio review by Jeffrey Lyons who panned the movie for kids and adults. He felt it was too slow paced with confusing special effects. He referred to the Oprah character as a witch. He admitted that he was not the audience for the film. I heard a discussion of the film on the NPR series “On Point” where one of the guests is the granddaughter of Madeline L’EngleI. She liked the movie with few reservations. It is interesting to see the different lenses through which the movie has been viewed. I have seen several You Tube video reviews by people who saw the movie but had not read the book at all. I was surprised to hear that Ava DuVernay had not read the book as a child. She made mention that the book was not on her radar growing up in Compton. If she had read the book earlier in her life, I wonder how that might have informed some of her choices as the director.

I liked the way that Ms. DuVernay slowly establishes the character of Meg for the audience at the beginning of the film. There is no rush to the adventure of space/time travel. I wish that more time had  been devoted to the experiences of the characters after visiting Planet Uriel. Events on Camazotz seemed rushed. I felt that the film would have been even stronger if the decision was made to include the chapter where Meg encounters Aunt Beast. I saw that the studio had gone to the trouble of building visualizations of the creatures and their world, but then decided not to include any of it in the final cut of the film.

The Meg Murry character experienced some major growth spurts while being healed by Aunt Beast. When her father tessered Meg, Calvin and himself off of Camazotz to the planet of Aunt Beast they all had to pass through the dark thing and he was not able to completely protect Meg from it.  Meg’s fears about her father’s limitations became intensified by the dark thing. She became fearful and combative. Meg’s behavior caused tension between her father, Calvin, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which. Through the help of everyone Meg comes to realize that more will be required of her and that she is the best candidate to go back to Camazotz, alone, to try and save Charles Wallace. She understands that her father’s presence could not fix everything and that he was not infallible. He could not save Charles Wallace from IT. He had been gone too long during Charles Wallace’s early upbringing. He did not have the necessary bond. This probably would have added a half hour to the film, but I think it would have a good build up leading to Meg’s encounter with Charles Wallace/It.

Much has been made of the way the movie reaches out to young women of color, but they are not alone in being able to identify with the marginalized who are learning to see that they too count, mightly, and have much to contribute.

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