Where the Wild Movies Are


It isn’t surprising to me that a full length movie taken from a children’s picture book is longer and has some plot changes, but I’ve seen Jumanji and I am surprised that Where the Wild Things Are, the movie, is both surprisingly true to the book and is, if anything, a richer work. There are changes in theme, but interesting ones. It’s going to take more than one post to explore the movie.

Poster from Wikipedia

The credits for Where the Wild Things Are list a bunch of co-producers, but three I recognized were Tom Hanks, whose production company did most of the heavy lifting, Spike Jonze, who also directed, and Maurice Sendak.

The Max of the movie is 9 years old with a missing father and an older sister. The movie starts with Max building a snow fort. He starts a snowball fight with his older sister’s friends and they destroy his fort.In his anger he destroys a present he made for his sister. At school, Max’s teacher talks about the death of the sun. The day gets worse.  His mother has her boyfriend over for dinner and won’t get in the fort he made from his bedsheets. Max wears his wolf suit. He demands food, acting as though his mother is a servant and rejects frozen cord. When his mother responds to his aggression by calling him “wild thing” he bites her, then runs away.

He finds a boat in the pond-ocean and sails away, landing on the dangerous shores of an island. He finds the wild things in distress: Carol is throwing a tantrum because K. W. has left the group. He is destroying the (womb-shaped) huts of all the wild things, and is even more enraged because they are not helping.

As in the book, Bernard, the one who looks like a bull, stays separate, looks out from the underbrush vaguely menacing.

Max joins Carol in his tantrum and helps him destroy huts, but as the tantrum dies the other wild things confront him, threatening to eat him. He does not tame them, he lies to them and tells them he’s a great king with magic powers, the power to hold them together and keep them safe from their own destructive impulses is implied. And they make him king of all wild things.

Let the wild rumpus start. More next time.


One Response to “Where the Wild Movies Are”

  1. 1 Maurice Sendak « FreePlayTherapy

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