Until I had a child of my own, just two years ago, I had no idea who Maurice Sendak was. The only children’s book author I knew was Dr. Seuss, so it was with some embarrassment when, while discussing children’s books with other parents, I’d say something like: “Have you ever heard of Maurice Sendak or Sandra Boynton?” as though I was an early adopter. I wasn’t exposed to much children’s literature as a child myself, and to this day, the only lyrics I know to most nursery rhymes come from Andrew Dice Clay (Jack and Jill went up a hill, each with a buck and a quarter. Jill came down with $2.50. Eeeeooow! There was on old lady who lived in a shoe. She had so many kids her uterus fell out. Eeeooow!).
So, my first experience with Where the Wild Things Are came with reading it to my son. I didn’t get it at first. It was weird and disjointed. My kid has got the entire story memorized now, but even before he understood any of the words, there was something about Where the Wild Things that spoke to him. I still don’t completely get it, but especially after seeing the Where the Wild Things Are trailer, I think I know how it makes him feel — this sense of adventure, of imagination, of childlike reverie, of hope and wonder and awe of the world.
I well up every time I fucking watch the thing, in part because it allows me to better understand how it makes my kid feel, which is probably similar to the way I felt the first time I read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (it’s no coincidence that Dave Eggers wroteWild Things screenplay). I’m convinced that it’s the best trailer ever created — it’s no contest — and that the trailer, by itself, is a complete work of art. If the movie is a fraction as good as the two minutes above, then it’ll be worth every cent, although I fully admit to some skepticism. Maybe you can capture the feeling of a book with less than 200 words in two minutes, but how will you be able to prolong that for 90?
A featurette of Where the Wild Things Are aired at Comic-con this weekend, and Sendak himself basically addressed that question (it was the first time I’d ever seen the man, too). It’s three-minutes long, and for anyone interested in the book, and especially in the movie, it’s fascinating. The endorsement that Sendak gives to director Spike Jonze almost convinces me that the movie just might live up to the trailer.
Here, give it a look: