Sendak on ‘Wild Things’

Posted by · 2:47 pm · October 11th, 2009

Maurice SendakThe best read of the day is Scott Timberg’s substantial LA Times profile of “Where the Wild Things Are” author Maurice Sendak, which traces the vast influence he and the book exerted on children’s literature — as well as a certain young Spike Jonze.

As someone who was heavily raised on Sendak’s work — “Wild Things” apart, I could recite his entire “Nutshell Library” back-to-front in my kindergarten days — I’m glad to see the 81 year-old author foregrounded amid the swell of hype for Jonze’s film. Obviously, Timberg devotes much attention to the boundary-breaking darkness and psychological grounding of Sendak’s work; more surprising, however, is this interpretation of the book’s cinematic properties:

In “Wild Things,” a single sentence can take pages to unfold, its meaning changing slightly with each image. And this book with numerous wordless pages ends with a half-sentence and no accompanying image. Sendak works similarly to the directors of the French New Wave, who used jump cuts and other techniques to dislocate their editing.

Meanwhile, Sendak may have already stated his one small reservation about Jonze’s vision for “Wild Things,” but I like his matter-of-fact response to the occasional conflicts of adaptation, in which it’s clear he’s glad the project finally fell to an independent-minded artist like himself:

“I’m most impressed with the freedom by which Spike said ‘no’ to me,” Sendak says. “I’m so pleased with his courage, his moodiness. Children’s movies bore me to death. With Spike, I found a genuine, fierce little artist. It’s not cute and cuddly! It’s a real movie.”

On a side note, it’s interesting that “Wild Things” is appearing within weeks of “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” another auteur-led adaptation of a beloved children’s book, from another author famous for his darker sensibility. It’ll be interesting to see which filmmaker’s creative liberties are better received.

Read the rest of Timberg’s piece here. My own Page to Screen discussion of “Where the Wild Things Are” from earlier this year can be found here.

→ 9 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

9 responses so far

  • 1 10-11-2009 at 3:03 pm

    kid said...

    When are we going to hear Kris’s thoughts on the film?

  • 2 10-11-2009 at 3:09 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I cannot WAIT! Apparently Peter Travers gave it 4 stars (only his second 4 stars so far this year), although I can’t seem to find it online. Very excited.

  • 3 10-11-2009 at 3:19 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    The film is still under embargo, Kid.

  • 4 10-11-2009 at 3:23 pm

    JR said...

    Here in Chicago, Michael Phillips is raving about it. Says it’s favorite movie so far this year:

  • 5 10-11-2009 at 3:33 pm

    Fitz said...

    To be fair doesn’t Travers like everything? It’s a ploy to get on the DVD cover.

    That said looking forward to this beating Law Abiding Citizen, that movie looks like it was made for the angry right/birther/no health care crowd.

  • 6 10-11-2009 at 7:28 pm

    Andrew L. said...

    Friday cannot arrive any quicker…

  • 7 10-11-2009 at 8:30 pm

    Al said...

    Fitz, Law Abiding Citizen is by no means a “right winger” flick. Im a right winger, and I take offense to that.

  • 8 10-12-2009 at 12:03 pm

    Fitz said...

    I apologize if that offends you, but the whole righteous-man-kills-entire-liberal-system theme is extremely conservative.

    If you don’t like that take issue with your political stance.

  • 9 10-12-2009 at 4:12 pm

    James D. said...

    Do the embargoes not apply to all critics? Because Metacritic has four different critic reviews.