A Wrinkle in Time
I was about eight or nine when my mother suggested I read A Wrinkle in Time. I remember seeing some of myself in Meg, as I was just starting to discover all the ways to feel awkward in my own skin. I had also been interested in teasing out what dating and romance was from the moment I started socializing with boys in kindergarten, so when Meg gets a kiss from Calvin I remember feeling the kind of elation one can only feel in middle school.
I was also dazzled by the vivid worlds so far from my own. They felt rooted in reality and yet so foreign that I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get to go on an adventure with the Murry children.
In anticipation of seeing the movie I re-read the book. The book failed to offer the same magic that it did when I read it the three or four times as a kid. That’s not to say that it isn’t still a worthy, wonderful book, but despite my best efforts, I’ve grown out of being the intended audience.
As an adult I find so much of the dialogue archaic. I also seem to remember using some of the odd phrasing as a kid, likely explaining why I continued to feel “other” from my classmates. I was definitely someone who believed in the unique universes of books in a way that was detrimental to both my social and academic life. I was the child, after all, who when we started learning about mitochondria not long after I read the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time, actually raised my hand to tell my teacher that mitochondria was a made up word from A Wind in the Door. My teacher patiently explained that the book actually drew from science and not the other way around. My mind was blown.
As I sat and watched the movie today I did my best to appreciate the movie as a child might, to suspend my cynicism and renew the earnest hope that came so easily when I was younger.
The children of this movie are taught the myriad of simple ways that darkness, evil, infiltrates the lives of people on earth. I especially appreciated that in the montage of examples of darkness, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behaviour is show as one of the ways that evil works. I couldn’t agree with that more, and with the concept that it’s worth being someone who works against that darkness.
There’s a meta feeling to the movie-watching experience as well. Oprah as Mrs. Which describes the fears that grow into hate, that make people turn against one another, and as I read the movie reviews from audiences before seeing the film I was horrified that so many people used language that I can’t fathom to dismiss and destroy the people of this film, especially the people of color. So much hate was being doled out because of the color of someone’s skin. Their hate only made me feel more eager to go see the movie.
Because as I needed to see myself in the awkward complicated Meg of the book, young girls, especially girls of color, should be able to see themselves in the Meg on the big screen. The Meg who explores self-doubt and the pangs of finding self-worth in a way that the Meg of the book never quite did.
I am a full-grown adult, but when Meg is fighting for Charles Wallace, and to some degree for her own self worth she says “Most days I hate myself” I saw myself, I heard my own words. I felt seen, like so many other women and girls likely will too. There is a theme to the movie of being at peace with oneself and in turn, at peace with the universe, that feels so simple, and yet so deeply uncomfortable that it can be easy to dismiss. But as so many of us are searching for belonging, it’s a message worth hearing.
As an overall movie experience, it’s one aimed directly at children and those who are happy to enjoy the visual feast a movie presents, even if everything else, especially the narrative feels a little thin.
The costumes, hair and makeup, lighting, and settings made for such a beautiful ride. And I’m happy to admit that I’m also all for deity-like Oprah dispensing nuggets of wisdom. Her Mrs. Which is much like the Oprah of our world, just with cuckoo-bananas outfits and bedazzled eyebrows. It’s an aesthetic I can completely get behind.
Not every movie has to be for a wide spectrum of viewers, and this movie feels like it was made specifically for children, which is a gift that not all kids movies deliver. It doesn’t feel like pandering and it doesn’t talk down to the audience. I’m not eager to jump in and watch the movie all over again, but I know that if I had seen this for the first time when I was eight, I absolutely would have wanted to buy another ticket immediately.
The bottom line- both the book and the movie are wonderful for young adventurers.