Dear well-intentioned filmmakers: when you adapt a 56-year-old classic book loved by millions worldwide, please bear one thing in mind: just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.
I admit that I’m a purist when it comes to transferring favorite books to the big screen. But the film version of A Wrinkle in Time suffers under the weight of its own computer-generated imagery and disregards the soul of Madeleine L’Engle’s groundbreaking story.
For example: just because you can swap the book’s iconic noble centaur/beast with “wings made of rainbows, of light upon water, of poetry” for a CGI flying carpet-like creature with Reese Witherspoon’s eyes and a creepy grin, that doesn’t make it a good idea.
And although it’s fine to reimagine the ethnicity and physical descriptions of main characters, it’s less fine to change their central motivations. For example, in the book Mr. Murray drew the short straw and was sent on an important government mission that resulted in him becoming imprisoned on another planet. But in the film he leaves his family behind on a whim so he can “shake hands with the universe.” That undermines the rest of the story by making him out to be a selfish dad who put career over family.
The film also turns Charles Wallace’s other-worldly wisdom and vulnerability into little more than a cute set of dimples, and Calvin O’Keefe is demoted to a two-dimensional tag-along. The adorable Storm Reid, who clearly has none of Meg’s “outrageous plainness,” is also missing a lot of the fire that makes Meg the compelling character she is.
L’Engle reflected in her journal, “If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it. This is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death.” In addition to diminishing the storyline in numerous ways, the film scoops out the faith-informed soul of L’Engle’s book and replaces it with a rather hollow celebration of self-actualization. That betrays the author’s intent in a way I fear she would find difficult to forgive. (Disney)