The Many Concerns We Have About Ava DuVernay's 'A Wrinkle in Time' Adaptation
A Wrinkle in Time is a very special book to me. Meg Murray, as a character, managed to perfectly capture the feeling of being in between life stages and how uncomfortable, enraging, tragic, and beautiful that can be. Meg is 13, an age where one is definitively no longer a child, but is still far from starting life as an adult. It is an unlovely time, whatever soft-filtered videos about puberty shown in middle school would have us believe. Meg is unlovely. She’s prone to outbursts, she’s recalcitrant, she feels affections fiercely but is also inherently suspicious and self-pitying, and nothing about her physical being is comfortable. I don’t know that I ever identified with a fictional character harder than I identified with Meg Murray as an adolescent. So I’ve been following the news of the film adaptation helmed by Ava DuVernay with trepidation. Recently, the official casting notice was released, showing that they’re seeking mixed race actors for all the major characters. There are some people who will likely raise some minor and pissy form of hell over this. They are wrong. The race of Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace is literally the least concerning part of this adaptation. I reread the entirety of A Wrinkle in Time this weekend, and the following are questions and problems I anticipate arising in no particular order:
— Charles Wallace is kind of an asshole. I realize this is not a nice thing to say about a 4 year old, but he’s a “special” 4 year old, in that he is especially an asshole. A toddler should never be walking their middle-school aged sister through complex physics concepts via the Socratic method and praising her with “good girl” as though she’s a reasonably well-behaved pet.
— Seriously, though, the first scene with the kid is him heating up some milk on the stove to make hot cocoa, and then making sandwiches for his mom and sister involving sliced liverwurst and tomatoes. HE IS FOUR. I don’t care how much of a genius empath he is, he still has the motor skills and general bearing of a four year old, and should not be playing with fire or knives. I get that Mrs. Murray has other things on her mind right now, but come the fuck on, lady.
— Jesus is described as a warrior of light fighting The Shadow. I actually don’t see a problem with that part. What I see a problem is the part were Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, Shakespeare, and Pasteur are ALSO described as warriors of the light just like Jesus.
— I have no idea what Madeleine L’Engle was thinking when she described a centaur in total detail and followed it up with “nothing like the creature from Greek mythology” and I suspect the filmmakers won’t either and whatever we get will look pretty goofy rather than dignified.
— The 2-D planet. Again, pretty sure that whatever we get will look goofy rather than life-threatening.
— I’m also terrified for how Aunt Beast will be depicted because that section of the novel is amazingly lovely, but the description has a high chance of looking terrible on screen.
— The fractured nature of the showdown on Camazotz seems unlikely to work well for a film. The interlude on Ixnel is a bit jarring even in print, but it wouldn’t work with the narrative structure of film at all.
— Especially since Meg’s final showdown with IT is so short. In my copy of the book, Meg returns to Camazotz on page 203 and retrieves Charles Wallace on page 208.
— The fact that A Wrinkle in Time was written in 1962 doesn’t come across especially strongly on the page. It didn’t feel noticeably dated when I read it in the mid-90s. A film adaptation will immediately date it, especially with as many special effects as it will need.
— They need to find a girl to play Meg who may be on the way to being pretty with striking eyes but who is not pretty at the moment. I do not trust Hollywood to actually do this.
— I also know that the things said about even very pretty girls and women on the internet and spread around by news sites as though they are deserving of our attention are completely horrid and I don’t know that this movie is worth putting an awkward teenager through that experience.
— Basically I just don’t want this movie to happen at all, OK? I realize it’s inevitable and there are no sacred cows when it comes to the film adaptation world, but this still feels very much like a personal affront.
— Yes, I realize there’s already been several adaptations but I refuse to acknowledge them and you can’t make me.
— If you have ever wondered about reading A Wrinkle in Time again, it totally holds up.
— At least A Wind in the Door is COMPLETELY impervious to film adaptation so we won’t be seeing this as a franchise.