Monthly Archives: October 2009

once upon a time

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of Where the Wild Things Are.  And I’ve noticed how different everyone’s take on this movie is – it’s interesting.  I felt confused during the movie.  My eyes enjoyed the movie, my adult brain kept stepping in to interrupt.  But I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Something in the camera angles, the point of view of a 10 year old, the fact that Max looked almost too old to be wearing a wolf suit, almost, not quite, but almost.  Something about this is striking, his tantrums seemed real, his last assertion of being a kid making it both obnoxious and endearing.  Tears of frustration and sadness and anger in an inability to just say what he felt – those visceral emotions are so real to everyone.  I sat at work the following day staring at my inbox slightly annoyed and all I could think is how much satisfaction I would get from putting a nice snarky growl to my frustration.  It would make me feel so much better instead of having to use my adult words my therapist has so patiently taught me to do over the past year.  And then Max runs away.  And I’m right there with him, cheering him on to just go, keep running!

And he sails away to find the place where those wild things are.  And here’s where the reviews I’ve been reading start to break apart into differing opinions about how the monsters were portrayed and how the plot unfolds and whether or not this can be regarded as a kids’ movie.  But I went into this not thinking of it as a kids’ movie.  This was my movie.  Why?  Because I had the book and I had the dolls, and I only remember them as the blue monster and the orange monster.  And when the monsters appeared on screen, they spoke.  And when they spoke they automatically were assigned a gender.  And I found that the most confusing of all.  These were my monsters, and I never once assigned them a gender.  So I had to let the story go and allow the movie to unfold only to reveal a new story.  A story with familiar images that keep returning to my imagination along with a feeling of comfort; similar to finding a revered stuffed animal in the back of your childhood closet and you pick it up and hug it in the same way you did when you were 7 yrs old.

So that’s what I took from the movie.  And I returned to what I remember from the book… But wait, what do I remember from the book?  I remember the shadowy trees, the monsters lifting Max up, a growl… there was a growl somewhere, right?  For me, this is the best part about seeing the movie.  I’m reminded that we all own this story.  We all took the pages and filled them in with our own story.  And I was grateful for the movie reminding me of this.

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