Who, Which, and Whatsit
July 15, 2017 1:25 PM   Subscribe

 
I have been waiting for this for decades. Although that younger self of mine could not have imagined the casting -- no one could have, then -- I'm already betting that this one has been worth the wait. This looks gorgeous.

(I know there was another TV movie made, but I heard it wasn't worth watching, and didn't. Was I wrong?)
posted by Countess Elena at 1:28 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


This looks amazing.
posted by meinvt at 1:37 PM on July 15


Holy shit, the balls bouncing gave me shivers!
posted by Mouse Army at 1:46 PM on July 15 [14 favorites]


That's actually one of the few scenes from the book that has stuck with me. I should re-read it sometime. It's been decades.
posted by hippybear at 1:49 PM on July 15 [15 favorites]


Super-powerful immortal being who can bend space and time? Seems like a step down for Oprah.
posted by Gary at 1:50 PM on July 15 [33 favorites]


Is it weird that I have basically no memory at all of this book? I know I read it, and I vividly remember some other Madeleine L'Engle books (and remember thinking she was weirdly conservative about some things and would probably very much disapprove of me), but I don't remember any plot points from Wrinkle in Time except that it was about a girl who had a brother with two names who had to find her missing scientist father.

Anyway, the movie looks amazing, but I say that as someone with no real connection to the book.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:52 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Aside from the multi-racial casting (which, hooray!), I always pictured Who, What and Which's looks and costumes to be far more severe. I remember thinking that Which was supposed to look like a stereotypical "wicked witch," moreso than the others, a sort of Ghost of Christmas Future vibe. I'll have to find a copy at some point to refresh my memory.
posted by pykrete jungle at 1:53 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I was afraid at first they had gotten rid of Charles Wallace but he shows up in the ball-bouncing scene.

I liked the way the women's eyes made a robotic "click" noise when they noticed the kids out of place.

I can't believe I have to wait till fucking NEXT MARCH for this, though, c'mon Disney you are killing me here.
posted by emjaybee at 1:58 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


That's actually one of the few scenes from the book that has stuck with me. I should re-read it sometime. It's been decades.

I never the book as a child, and read it for the first time a few years ago, and I found it to be gross fascist/religious propaganda, so YMMV.
posted by jcreigh at 2:03 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


No. Just...no.
posted by tully_monster at 2:03 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


This looks fucking awesome.
posted by supercrayon at 2:06 PM on July 15


I know I read the book but it's been something like 45 years and I don't remember a single thing about it. This looks pretty neat though and I'm happy that they're giving DuVernay big budgets to play with.
posted by octothorpe at 2:12 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, that looks great. The book never landed for me as a kid, but I think I'm really going to enjoy this adaptation.
posted by haruspicina at 2:12 PM on July 15


Hard to tell too much from the teaser but I remember liking the book as a kid because it was...very weird, and maybe even a little off-putting? and this just sort of looks like a standard CGI-heavy kid-friendly adventure blockbuster.
posted by loquacious crouton at 2:18 PM on July 15 [13 favorites]


Meg looks nerdy enough. The book is allegorical theology so we'll see how much of that comes over.
posted by Peach at 2:39 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


My main concern is how close Aunt Beast will look to Wayne Barlow's depiction of the Ixchel from Barlow's Guide to Extraterrestrials, a book I owned even before I read A Wrinkle in Time.
posted by ejs at 2:40 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Is it weird that I have basically no memory at all of this book? I know I read it

If it is, I'm weird too. I read all those books, and all I remember about that one in particular is the related piece from The Toast in 2014.
posted by mordax at 2:43 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Aside from the multi-racial casting (which, hooray!), I always pictured Who, What and Which's looks and costumes to be far more severe

Yeah - I'm a little put-off by how glammed-up they are. When I read the book I guess I visualized awesomeness in homely packages. But I don't expect that will keep me from seeing the movie.

And I'm pretty excited :)
posted by bunderful at 2:43 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


This book was super, super formative to me as a kid-- I can still remember reading it in the game room at day camp in 3rd or 4th grade, hiding behind the bookshelf tucked into a corner that no one else ever touched. I identified hard with Meg-- her prickly awkwardness, the way she was too smart for her own good in all the least helpful ways. Until about age 12 I was a dead ringer for the version of her on the cover of my paperpack copy.

This trailer doesn't really look like my own mental staging of the book-- I always pictured it set in the late 60s, with Mr. Jenkins in a black skinny tie and horn-rimmed glasses, Calvin in a crew cut and cuffed jeans and high-tops. My Camazotz is a lot more dingy/Brutalist than too-perfect Technicolor.

Nevertheless, this looks awesome and beautiful and I can't WAIT to see it.
posted by nonasuch at 2:44 PM on July 15 [17 favorites]


I am not familiar with the story, it looks like the typical 1960s children's propaganda/indoctrination for the image of the entrepreneurial self. It seems I am alone in finding it horrifying in the trailer.
posted by mary8nne at 2:48 PM on July 15


Aside from the multi-racial casting (which, hooray!), I always pictured Who, What and Which's looks and costumes to be far more severe.

Main thing I remember is Whatsit had lots of scarves, striped socks, and her boots tended to collect water.


I remember thinking that Which was supposed to look like a stereotypical "wicked witch," moreso than the others, a sort of Ghost of Christmas Future vibe.

IIRC, Which was mostly non-material, but she did materialize once lookng as a classic witch, just to amuse the other Ws.
posted by happyroach at 2:49 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


That is correct, the TV movie sucked.
posted by Melismata at 2:49 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


It was very situated in 60s because of the glorification of "genius" in otherwise apparently-inept people (that was a very persistent trope which many of us found appealing because maybe we nerdy idea-obsessed SF-reading types were just hidden geniuses) but it wasn't entrepreneurial; it was much more about self-sacrifice in a very Christian way.
posted by Peach at 2:53 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


The book was also formative to me -- my mother read it to me, then I read it to myself and it's always been with me; I re-read every couple of years. Meg's love being stronger than IT is the linchpin of the series and, I hope, my own philosophy. The mix of fantasy, religion and mathematics was exquisite to my tiny mind. (There's definitely parts that haven't aged great, but for the most part, I still love the book.)

I had also pictured the Mrs. W's differently -- mostly wearing lots of clothes, lots of layers, especially since it opens with them stealing sheets off of the neighbor's line? And, of course, pictured it set...mostly in the 70's or 80's, I guess? Which is probably mostly influenced by my having been read it probably in the late 80's.
posted by kalimac at 2:54 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


YES YES YES TO ALL OF THIS. I hope the movie is as amazing as this preview.

Oh, and is Charles Wallace not the most adorable and Charles Wallace-iest boy you have ever seen? I just want to squeeze him (although I wouldn't, because he wouldn't like that).
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 2:55 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Oh, and is Charles Wallace not the most adorable and Charles Wallace-iest boy you have ever seen?

Yes! I always have trouble picturing him, but he is precisely perfect in the few seconds we saw. I mean, I generally trust Ava DuVernay to do no wrong, but now I am seriously excited.
posted by kalimac at 3:02 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


As a parent of a soon to be 5th grader- I'm stoked. Zeitgeist is a wonderful thing.
posted by mrzz at 3:05 PM on July 15


Wait, this isn't how everyone else discovered
mitochondria as a kid?
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 3:18 PM on July 15 [57 favorites]


Jojo: That's "A Wind in the Door", a book which, if this movie is successful, will be a real m-f-er to film.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:21 PM on July 15 [19 favorites]


To me the weirdest part of this is the palm trees and the Southern California (or maybe Florida?) neighborhood. Isn't the book set in like a dark and stormy New England tumbledown Victorian town with hills and bitter rain?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:24 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Not sure about mitochondria, but it was certainly my introduction to this.
posted by NervousVarun at 3:26 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


4th grade, Mrs. Kruger read a chapter a day after lunch.
posted by mikelieman at 3:28 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


I am not familiar with the story, it looks like the typical 1960s children's propaganda/indoctrination for the image of the entrepreneurial self. It seems I am alone in finding it horrifying in the trailer.

No, definitely not. There is a smart kid element to it for sure, but the message is pretty much the opposite of entrepreneurial self.

I CAN'T WAIT, find the setting a bit odd, and am tired of the grimdark-modulated theme song trailer.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:39 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


The classroom next door read A Wrinkle in Time after lunch, and we had an open plan school, and it was so frustrating to hear just tantalizing bits of the book! Although when I read it on my own in 3rd or 4th grade I found it kind of scary -- Camazotz and IT were horrifying.

I don't know about the religious allegory, but I'm very aware of L'Engle's religious leanings. My sense of her is that her religion comes through thematically but not so didactically in her books. Characters are encouraged to act with grace and generosity and lead by example, and there are explicitly religious characters (one of her regular characters is a Canon associated with St. Patrick's Cathedral) but the religious element is not paint-by-numbers one-for-one the way it is in Narnia.

Anyway, all that is to say I really enjoyed a lot of L'Engle's fiction and non-fiction, I read and loved AWIT as a child, and while this production doesn't look anything like I imagined it, I'm stoked about the casting and the creativity that's going into it. I just hope it stays true to the themes of the book and doesn't have any violence or explosions.
posted by suelac at 3:39 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Thinking about it a little more, I am extremely stoked about the casting. Which makes me look at the people who threw hissy fits over, like, Idris Elba as Heimdall or Lucy Liu as Watson with even more side-eye than I used to.

Because I loved book-Meg fiercely as a kid. I identified so, so strongly with her, I imagined being her, I thought of her as someone I could be if the world I lived in were a little stranger or more magical. And some of that was tied to the fact that she was described as looking like me, and depicted on the cover as a girl who looked like me.

But looking at movie-Meg doesn't make me feel like any of that has been taken away or invalidated. I watched the trailer and thought, oh! you're Meg! you're going to be such a good Meg! I can't wait to see what kind of Meg you're going to be!

She doesn't have to be my book-Meg to be wonderful. I still have that Meg, and more importantly I had her when I really needed her. And now maybe some girls who might not otherwise have had Meg Murry in the landscape of their imagination will get to have her too. How can I be anything but happy about that?
posted by nonasuch at 3:51 PM on July 15 [62 favorites]


The only thing I remember is a plot point with a character the girl named Aunt Beast.

I'm still still strangely comforted by the recollection of a plot point for which I have no memory of the actual scene.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:56 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


I was apparently the one kid who managed to avoid this book, judging from the comments above. However, I just want to say that it's genuinely cool that Ava DuVernay gets to be a "visionary director" now.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:58 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Like a lot of the commenters above, I had no memory of this book at all. I know we read it in school, but I couldn't tell you what it was about or anything.

But when that creepy scene in the street with the balls hit, man, the creepiness of that scene is seared into my brain pan.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:00 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


gross fascist/religious propaganda

That's harsher than I'd go, but on rereading as an adult the religious element was way stronger than I remembered - not even subtext, it's just text. I kind of wish I'd left it alone as a favorite childhood memory.

I always pictured it set in the late 60s, with Mr. Jenkins in a black skinny tie and horn-rimmed glasses, Calvin in a crew cut and cuffed jeans and high-tops. My Camazotz is a lot more dingy/Brutalist than too-perfect Technicolor.

YES THIS EXACTLY. I'm not on board with any of the casting except Meg (I always pictured her skinny with stringy red hair, but like this version), and Camazotz should be rundown concrete bunkers and perpetually gray skies.

the glorification of "genius" in otherwise apparently-inept people

A Wrinkle in Time seems to scratch the same itch in awkward, too-smart, underappreciated girls that Ender's Game does for boys. They are both problematic in different ways.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:05 PM on July 15 [17 favorites]


Honestly, the cross-race casting makes me excited for the future of movies. We've needed this for a long long long long long time. Can we get a Star Wars movie with a black or asian lead (that isn't a racist stereotype)? I mean, watch Turner Classic Movies for 24 hours and count the number of non-white people on screen. You can just use tally marks, you won't need a clicker.
posted by hippybear at 4:10 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


The bouncing ball scene is not like I remember. I wasn't imagining mcmansions. I envisioned a street that wasn't a cul-de-sac, small red bouncy balls for more precise bouncing, and a more human 'everyone bouncing the balls at the same time' - something precisely matched, but the audio on that bouncing ball scene just wasn't like I imagined.
posted by aniola at 4:19 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Aside from being EXCITED TO SEE THIS, I'm going through this thread and favoriting everyone who mentions Aunt Beast, because Aunt Beast is probably my favorite thing in AWIT, and in fact one of my favorite fictional characters in general, or at least one of the most deeply & comfortably nested in my subconscious.
posted by jinjo at 4:24 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


I was all "where's Proginoskes" but then remembered that it shows up in A Wind In The Door. I think I remember that book more - especially the BS notion of mitochondrial farandolae.

Which one had the 2D flat world?
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:47 PM on July 15


> (I know there was another TV movie made, but I heard it wasn't worth watching, and didn't. Was I wrong?)

Countess Elena, yeah I generally agree with the sentiment stated above -- you didn't miss much. I watched parts of that TV movie when it aired in 2004 and mostly recall it as being bland as a movie and unfortunate as an adaptation. Lots of unnecessary special effects in favor of story. I remember asking a die-hard fan of the book about it at the time and she wasn't impressed either, with a lot of important characters such as Aunt Beast and the "witches" getting short shrift (and one small detail I remember is her being disappointed that Meg didn't wear glasses in that production).

It's possible the original vision of that show would have been better -- it was written and filmed as a four-hour miniseries, but for whatever reason, the final edit shown on TV was cut down to a two-hour movie instead. (!)

In any case, the casting of this new production is an encouraging sign and I hope the actors got to be in a better adaptation. I'm so, so happy in particular that kids will be able to see this cast in a major film. Sure, it may not be a 1-to-1 faithful adaptation of the original text, but I'm all for any creative interpretation that can take on a life of its own (Clueless is probably my favorite example of this).
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 4:49 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Which one had the 2D flat world?

That was AWIT -- they accidentally tesser into the flat world, and Charles Wallace yells at the Mrs. W's about it, because Meg can't breathe.

(This film is going to be so visually cool and I am SO EXCITED)
posted by kalimac at 4:50 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


OK, I made myself watch the trailer, and holy shit, I'M IN.
posted by tully_monster at 4:54 PM on July 15


I grew up reading SF/F but I totally missed this series and I never went back. I feel like I've missed out, but this looks pretty legit. I'm on board with it, even if I have no idea how faithful it might be or if its trampling on the childhood memories of people who grew up with a particular fondness for the book(s).
posted by Fizz at 5:02 PM on July 15


It's been a long time since I've read the novel, but what I remember most was Meg feeling bad about not being like everyone else or accepted by her peers, and how the love of the three witches, her family, and one friend made up for that, especially after seeing what being like everyone else really meant.

Having said that, these days I find I identify more with the minor character Mr. Jenkins, who may not even be in this movie (he comes back for a bigger role in the immediate sequel).
posted by infinitewindow at 5:06 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


with Mr. Jenkins in a black skinny tie and horn-rimmed glasses,
YES
these days I find I identify more with the minor character Mr. Jenkins, who may not even be in this movie (he comes back for a bigger role in the immediate sequel).
ALSO YES.

I remember coming across that detail with the sneakers--and how he even tried to scuff them up a bit to salve Calvin's pride--and it really sticking with me. It wasn't until I was a bit older that that scene made me well up a bit each time I came across it. Not that this is the sort of thing I do--it's the sort of thing I should aspire to do more.
posted by pykrete jungle at 5:19 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


My favorite childhood book, I so wanted to travel the universe, be a hero, and get a boy to notice me. But that was before there were any sequels, and I had no idea there were other books until just a few years ago when my daughters were old enough to read them. I cannot recall the bouncing ball scene at all. Maybe I should sneak upstairs and reread the original.
posted by Miss Cellania at 5:44 PM on July 15


Meg looks great.

I, too, pictured Camazotz differently, but I can accept the cul-de-sac as an updating of the image. I think a Brutalist/post-Soviet Camazotz would just read to the modern American eye as "poor," which is not the point.

I still remember the little thrill I got learning Greek and realizing that "Echthroi" means "enemies." I wonder if they will be explicitly named in the film.

gross fascist/religious propaganda

For serious? You promise not to complain or snicker the next time a fundamentalist complains about godless modern media, right?
posted by praemunire at 5:51 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


Funny, I remember the book not as fascist propaganda, but as very explicitly anti-fascist propaganda. The "darkness" of IT secures serene peacefulness and orderliness by authoritarian means, extinguishing chaos and individuality and also love. I placed it in my mind along with the Lord of the Rings under "authors still grappling with the aftermath of WWII, hoping to help raise a generation that will be able to understand and resist such temptations."

So seeing it made as a movie NOW, my first thought was that someone is worried about our current generation.
posted by brambleboy at 5:54 PM on July 15 [38 favorites]


This was one of those books that was magical to me as kid. It just filled up my imagination. I liked other books, including the sequels, but this is one of three or four that really I just loved. I haven't read it in 30 years and don't even think about it much these days, though Gaiman's Ocean at the End of Lane had women that very much made me think of the W.'s.

Obviously I hope the movie's good and gets people excited about it and don't think of it as just another entry in the Harry Potter genre. I don't think I could take that.
posted by mark k at 6:03 PM on July 15


I liked the casting, but Disney doesn't have a great record with adaptations and I'm worried that they're going to turn it into a plot-coupon adventure: visit these places and collect coupons that you can redeem for the release of Meg's father.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:05 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


As a late Cold War baby, I remember it, if anything, as anti-Communist. But really, I think it was simply anti-totalitarian. Madeleine L'Engle was a well-educated Episcopalian and parishioner at St. John the Divine in NYC until her death. Very much a WASP, but there was nothing fascist about her.
posted by tully_monster at 6:08 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Can. Not. Wait.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:11 PM on July 15


Sorry to be slightly OT but what's the "entrepneurial self" mean in this context?
posted by mark k at 6:11 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah - I'm a little put-off by how glammed-up they are.

I'm a little put off by how glammed up /everyone/ is. Count me in for waiting for the Fanfare thread to see which way I'll jump.
posted by corb at 6:15 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Yes, L'Engle vibed very much with the sort of hippie, brown-corduroy-pants-and-carob-chip Episcopalianism I was brought up in, which, although I left it behind a long time ago, nonetheless championed some values I consider worthwhile to this day. Contrast C.S. Lewis, also an Anglican, but far smugger and prissier, and to my mind with a much less effective imagination. A lot of evangelicals fall in love with Lewis, who simultaneously offers them a taste of the higher intellectual and aesthetic aspirations and traditions their own churches are bereft of and the kind of self-satisfaction they are addicted to. But they don't tend to go for L'Engle, who seems vaguely witchy.
posted by praemunire at 6:27 PM on July 15 [19 favorites]


Where's the blazer?
posted by ethansr at 6:37 PM on July 15


I'm put off by how prettied-up Ms. Whatsit, Miss Which, and Mrs. Who are. It doesn't fit the characters to have them looking like they just walked off a Fashion Week runway. I would have liked to see older actresses in the roles. That said, I love the diversity in the cast, and the rest of it looks amazing.
posted by sarcasticah at 6:46 PM on July 15 [8 favorites]


A lot of evangelicals fall in love with Lewis, who simultaneously offers them a taste of the higher intellectual and aesthetic aspirations and traditions their own churches are bereft of and the kind of self-satisfaction they are addicted to. But they don't tend to go for L'Engle, who seems vaguely witchy.
I suspect that they're also not enthusiastic about her massive respect for science and scientists, which I don't think she saw as being in conflict with her faith, but which I think many modern Evangelicals would.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:51 PM on July 15 [14 favorites]


Yes, L'Engle vibed very much with the sort of hippie, brown-corduroy-pants-and-carob-chip Episcopalianism I was brought up in...

LOL, I hear you. The second L'Engle book I found was Many Waters, which I simply could not fathom as a kid. I could see that it was about traveling back to Biblical times, but it made no sense to me. I was taking my religious education mostly from the community around me, which was evangelical, and there was no place in it for knowing the names of different types of angels, or God forbid reimagining Bible stories. (Even "God forbid" is wrong, because that's "taking the Lord's name in vain.") I never did finish that book.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:04 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


*hyperventilates*

Also may I say that Chris Pine is making some excellent choices about taking secondary/sidekick characters in female-targeted movies. There's no shortage of men playing macho superheros/franchise leads (even ones named Chris!), but courting a female audience and being willing to play roles that women find appealing -- even when those roles are supporting/secondary -- is a smart, smart move. And also charming.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:11 PM on July 15 [37 favorites]


Madeleine L'Engle being interviewed about the previous movie adaptation:
NEWSWEEK: So you've seen the movie?
Madeleine L'Engle: I've glimpsed it.

And did it meet expectations?
Oh, yes. I expected it to be bad, and it is.
I loved AWIT when we read it in school and, like many other smart nerdy girls, identified with Meg. I am thrilled to see the casting of PoC! Fantastic. I'm sure I'll go see this, though I do worry slightly that it won't live up to my expectations.

It surprises me that someone would interpret it as fascist--it's very much against groupthink and authoritarianism. I mean that is literally what they are trying to rescue Meg's father from.

I recently read When You Reach Me, which the author has said was influenced by L'Engle and AWIT (and the protagonist reads AWIT so many times her copy is worn out--it's her favourite book). It was really quite good and a worthy tribute.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:26 PM on July 15 [5 favorites]


The first three books were tremendously important to me as a (smart, awkward, glasses-wearing, brilliant-younger-brother-having) kid. L'Engel's politics, inasmuch as I remember them, seem to be anti-fascist and her religious bent, humane. But on the other hand, I haven't read them in thirty years. Regardless, this trailer gave me goosebumps and very prickly eyes and I can't wait until next March.
posted by merriment at 7:47 PM on July 15


Excited for this, especially Chris Pine as the dad, I think he'll do a great job. The big thing about the book is that Meg realizes she has to save her dad, not the other way around; that parents aren't infallible and at some point in life you have to start to think. I wonder how this will play out in this version...

But yes that ball scene is still lacking. There's another movie version of it from about five years and it was lacking too. The creepy factor has to be there. The menacing sense that something is coming... In this clip it still missed the mark.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:51 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I've got it now - the balls have to bounce like a heartbeat, and they just cannot be CGI. They just can't.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:55 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


Count me as not a fan of the trailer. "The only thing faster than light..." (cliche obnoxious trailer accelerating loudening noise sudden STOP) "...is the darkness." BLURGH. And I just told a bright young fanfic writer the other day that darkness/light dichotomies are writing poison.

Of the movie, well, I'll have to see.
posted by JHarris at 8:00 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


I'm put off by how prettied-up Ms. Whatsit, Miss Which, and Mrs. Who are. It doesn't fit the characters to have them looking like they just walked off a Fashion Week runway. I would have liked to see older actresses in the roles.

I kind of agree but will note Winfrey is 63.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:33 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


"The only thing faster than light..." (cliche obnoxious trailer accelerating loudening noise sudden STOP) "...is the darkness." 

"...and pastels. Pastels are mad fast."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:35 PM on July 15 [21 favorites]


Anybody who wants to complain about two famous women of color getting to look SUPER COOL at one point in the movie can, as the kids these days, fucking miss me.

Same for how for anybody complaining that the original books, which presume whiteness as default, have been updated and moved forward in time to allow the movie to be more racially inclusive/not force brown kids to deal with yet more screen representations of racism in America as it existed in the 1960s.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:41 PM on July 15 [15 favorites]


I'm a little put off by how glammed up /everyone/ is.

This is really what bothered me about the preview, to clarify my earlier statement. Not so much these specific actors - I am pro-colorblind casting in general, and this is certainly an impressive lineup of talent. It's the character design that doesn't work for me.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:06 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah, count me in the group of folks for whom this was a super important book as a child, but upon re-reading as an adult was pretty horrified. Can't stand Oprah, too, so I think I'll pass on this.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:08 PM on July 15


Eyebrows McGee: Also may I say that Chris Pine is making some excellent choices about taking secondary/sidekick characters in female-targeted movies.... a smart, smart move. And also charming.

Well, he was raised to be charming....
posted by tzikeh at 9:44 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


And I'm another one who loved the books as a child, but upon rereading as an adult was completely turned off by all the JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! That discovery broke my heart worse than the JESUS! JESUS! JESUS! adult re-read of Narnia did, because I identified with Meg and Calvin and Charles Wallace far more than with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.

Ah, well.
posted by tzikeh at 9:47 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


JHarris: Count me as not a fan of the trailer. "The only thing faster than light..." (cliche obnoxious trailer accelerating loudening noise sudden STOP) "...is the darkness." BLURGH.

Yes. Although I'd have been fine with it if it had gone where I thought it was going, which was "The only thing faster than light..." (cliche obnoxious trailer accelerating loudening noise sudden STOP) "...is A TESSERACT." And then a glimpse of whatever visual they have for a tesseract.

I do like saying that word.
posted by tzikeh at 9:50 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Count me as not a fan of the trailer. "The only thing faster than light..." (cliche obnoxious trailer accelerating loudening noise sudden STOP) "...is the darkness." BLURGH.

I thought it was clever - no matter how fast light goes, darkness always gets there first...
posted by Sebmojo at 12:04 AM on July 16


It surprises me that someone would interpret it as fascist--it's very much against groupthink and authoritarianism. I mean that is literally what they are trying to rescue Meg's father from.

Okay, so first I should apologize for dropping that hot take into this thread when everybody else was just trying to enjoy a fun thing. I regretted it pretty much immediately, and good job ya'll on not getting derailed by it.

HOWEVER, I was being serious, and let me try to explain. I called it "fascist" because Who, Which, and Whatsit basically just show up and tell the kids what to do throughout with no real justification than "trust us! We're the good guys!" And maybe they are the good guys, but it's still an appeal to authority. So yes, obviously, on the surface, the book wants us to believe that it is anti-authoritarian. It sets up this supposed contrast of the horrible, mindless obedience demanded by IT compared to the freedom of those fighting the darkness, but ultimately the kids are being asked to obey these three strange supernatural creatures with no way to know their true intentions are or what the outcome will be.

Which is, of course, the Christian view: Obeying authority is good, you just have to pick the right authority. But it rubbed me the wrong way, especially in a children's book. I would rather see a rejection of authoritarianism that, you know, rejects authority rather than substituting authority, even a supposedly good authority.

In short, I didn't like the book because it succeeds as Christian allegory, and I fundamentally disagree with the Christian view of morality, so of course I had problems with it.
posted by jcreigh at 12:09 AM on July 16 [14 favorites]


I love Metafilter so much! You guys are the best.

Okay, let me explain why you all are the best. On most geek/feminist friendly sites when AWIT is discussed (like Jezebel or The Mary Sue), you just hear a general Greek chorus of happy squeeing and love of L'Engle's writing. Which is okay. But I have to say, while I loved AWIT **SO MUCH** as a bespectacled bookish middle schooler in rural Oregon in the mid '80s, and I related to Meg SO HARD, I found myself less and less enchanted with the book (and the series as I whole) as I reread them over the years. The world-building seemed shoddy, the plotting episodic, and so many plot threads are dropped, never to be heard of again. What happened to IT? Camazotz? Hey, what about the darkness they were fighting? There's all the rah rah Jesus stuff. (OK, I get it, I had the same shag-carpet-Episcopalian upbringing that many of you guys had, but I gritted my teeth rereading it, because MY GOD is it heavy-handed.) And Meg is whisked away to be pregnant and homebound after Book 2. And let's not get in the horrors of A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Bleeeehhhhh.

I was prepared to make these controversial statements about this beloved book series. But you guys beat me to it! I love you crazy kids. I want to make dinner for you all.

When I originally read AWIT back when I was a kid, I think I pictured it as the early '80s, because... it was the early '80s. Upon rereading, I pictured it as the late 60s, with Meg in a chunky turtleneck and big glasses and Mr. Jenkins in a grey suit and skinny tie. (I even did some fanart of that. Hey, look-- it's Meg and Mr. Jenkins!)

But hey, I'm glad the book is re-envisioned for the movie. Yay on the contemporary SoCal setting, instead of the oppressively twee New England village. Yay on the diverse casting and the interesting update on Camazotz, now turned into a technicolor Disney exurbia. It looks like the movie is going to tone down many of the tedious "macrame Jesus" aspects of the novel, and maybe (I hope) address some of the plot holes as well.

Also, you guys are awesome.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 12:47 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


I guess "Entrepreneurial Self" may have been a bit sloppy, as I was really just referring to that kind of "Ayn Randian" individualism that, looking back now, seems so persistent in the 1960s mentality. And as Thomas Frank argues, it was a mentality that in the end, lead to the spread of consumerism, and entrepreneurialism. Hippies who become multi-national companies...

That ethos of "you are special", cultivate your individuality, any "conformity" to social norms or tradition are inherently evil, dark. Aspiration and disruption is championed over any kind of stability, or security.
posted by mary8nne at 2:09 AM on July 16


That was an unbelievably lazy choice of music, it broke my concentration n the trailer as soon as it started.

I was happy to see Oprah Winfrey get into some more acting when I saw the listing. Not sure I liked the look of her character though.
posted by biffa at 2:53 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Like most people, i think it looks cool and i'll see it... but damn, it's VERY different from the dark, grungy, autumnal New Englandy picture thats been in my head for 30 years.

In my ideal version, Camazotz would be shot using 70's cameras and models, and IT would be a big sponge in a glass bubble with a green neon light underneath it.
posted by ELF Radio at 4:29 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


AWIT was the first fantasy book I ever read and it hooked me good. At the time there were questions by school staff about if I should be allowed to read it (catholic elementary school). My book was confiscated twice and my Grandfather got it back twice. Silly priests. I still have it. And no you can't borrow it.

I don't know how I feel about the movie. Other fantasy books that were made into movies really didn't do the stories justice. I hope AWIT, the movie is different.
posted by james33 at 5:05 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


The Christianist propaganda definitely didn't survive the re-reading test when we gave the book to Little Hobo.

But you know what? I feel like everyone involved in this film is doing what they can to get it right.

I mean hell, we're going to get to watch a young black girl rescue a Middle-Aged White Man In Distress.

And who am I to dis-a-gree-ee?
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:09 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Having grown up soaked in a much more oppressive version of Christianity, my adult re-read of AWIT didn't even register as oppressively Christian. I think the later books in the series are much more explicit about it, but they're also less interesting so I haven't bothered to go back to them.

And...well it is a kid's book. Kids don't know much, and having a Magical Adult, whether it be a wizard, fairy, or Mrs .Whatsit, tell them what to do is pretty par for kid's literature.

You can tell more modern kid lit by the fact that the kid sometimes says "Nope," and does what they are NOT supposed to do, but stuff written in the 60s tended to be more about "follow these steps to Defeat Evil" and I'm not seeing that as sinister so much as just normal for the time. AWIT was a bit subversive in the the three Ws refused to tell them EXACTLY what to do--they just dropped them in Camazotz and said "figure it out, kids!"
posted by emjaybee at 7:29 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I am really happy that Metafilter is a place where I can admit that I LOVED this book as a kid and read it multiple times and yet remember absolutely nothing about it. I guess what I loved about it was that it was about a smart girl who was encouraged to be smart back in a time (I read it in the late 60s) when this was not so common. It sounds like I should not re-read it.
posted by acrasis at 7:36 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Having grown up soaked in a much more oppressive version of Christianity, my adult re-read of AWIT didn't even register as oppressively Christian.

Same here. For me it was a rather subversive thing to be reading as a kid, and the Christianity was downright subtle.
posted by bunderful at 7:39 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I remember reading this for the first time at around the same time I was reading C.S. Lewis' utterly bonkers Space Trilogy, which is somewhat more adult but had the same feel to me. In that they were both books by very intelligent writers obviously trying to reconcile their Christianity with a set of competing values that they were very committed to - in L'Engle's case, her fascination with and love of science, mathematics, independent thought, and Lewis with his deep love of pre-Christian pagan mythology. The result struck me as not necessarily good or bad but just - unique. I hadn't encountered that before - most of the "Christian" books I'd been reading were just plainly and simply propagandistic, there was nothing in there that was independent and conflicting with the "Party line", so to speak, and the non-Christian stuff (mostly fantasy and sci-fi novels) were completely secular and disconnected from the values I'd been taught in church. So the literature I was consuming was sort of set in two separate and completely isolated worlds. Lewis and L'Engle were bridging those worlds, and the results were strange, not always comfortable and profoundly fascinating.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:53 AM on July 16 [14 favorites]


1) I not only loved these books so much I reread them often as a kid, I read literally everything else of hers. Everything. Even the non-sci-fi stuff. *Shudder*
2) I will absolutely never reread them because I'm petrified of hating them now. They can live in my memory in perfection. I'm pretty damn anti-christian now and I can't imagine how I could read them and enjoy them as an adult.
3) In cases like these, I consider myself lucky to have aphantasia. I have zero "picture" of what any of this should look like based on the books. (There are *very* few perks for having no mind's eye.)
4) Yay! Chris Pine! Yay! Diverse cast! Yay! Badass women! Boo! That trailer song. Enough. Enough with that crap. And I thought the Inception "BWAAH!" was overused.
5) I mean hell, we're going to get to watch a young black girl rescue a Middle-Aged White Man In Distress.. Yes yes yes yes yes.

In conclusion, I'm pretty excited. And feeling a tiny bit cautious because of the religious stuff.
posted by greermahoney at 8:54 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Having grown up soaked in a much more oppressive version of Christianity, my adult re-read of AWIT didn't even register as oppressively Christian.

My brother joined a very Christian cult, had a daughter, and I remember one time they were visiting and my neice ran out of books (the horror!) I tried to loan her AWIT, but my brother took one look at the cover and said no way was she going to read that. He "knew exactly what kind of book that was and no." So... The Christian fundamentalism just didn't come through via that cover with a pegasus/centaur.
posted by greermahoney at 9:03 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Roald Dahl was my country's foundational childhood literature*, so I have no idea what this is about.

I'll give it a shot.

* goddamn whoever thought they should mess up Matilda by making her punishments wacky antics and adding in an unnecessary scene where they break into Trunchbull's mansion
posted by Merus at 9:08 AM on July 16


One thing I'd also like to comment on--Zach Galifianakis is listed in the credits. I didn't see him in the trailer, so I went and looked up what role he's playing.

The Happy Medium, it turns out. So, on seeing a brown Meg (yay!), they've also gender-bent that character (you have my attention...)
posted by anem0ne at 10:12 AM on July 16


"The only thing faster than light..." (cliche obnoxious trailer accelerating loudening noise sudden STOP)

is BEES!!!
posted by flabdablet at 11:31 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Gary: "Super-powerful immortal being who can bend space and time? Seems like a step down for Oprah."

Nah, Oprah was ALWAYS a Time Lady.
posted by WCityMike at 11:41 AM on July 16


I'm a little put off by how glammed up /everyone/ is.

I suppose you could always hold out for the Zach Snyder version...
posted by happyroach at 11:42 AM on July 16


> Is it weird that I have basically no memory at all of this book? I know I read it

If it is, I'm weird too. I read all those books, and all I remember about that one in particular is the related piece from The Toast in 2014.


Same here. I know I loved the book when I was 12, but I can hardly remember anything about it. I'll have to reread it before I see the film.
posted by homunculus at 4:01 PM on July 16


Today I learned that the family in Meet the Austins is modeled on L'Engle's own family including her, her husband and her children, which is notable only because most of the tension in Meet the Austins is caused by the Austin family's decision to adopt a horrible 10-year-old orphan who is such a terrible spoiled brat that they eventually offload her to some other relative so that they can go back to being smug and perfect in that special way that families in L'Engle's books were all smug and perfect. The terrible character was modeled on L'Engle's adopted daughter Maria, who was orphaned and came to live with the family at the age of 7, four years before Meet the Austins was published. Unlike in the book, they kept her.

In conclusion: Madeleine L'Engle may have been a bit of a monster.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:28 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


You know, this can have cool progressive casting and still look like it's going to miss the mark, and I say this as a POC meganerd who loved these books way back when.

This looks like American horror story, and Chris pine being in it just makes me think of Sparkle Trek. I realize trailers are edited for maximum BWAAAA now, but something about the tone and style of everything they've shown just feels... off? And this isn't some grumpy old nerd "it doesn't look the way I imagined it!" Thing, it's this super polished stylized-but-safe vibe. Malificent felt like it was playing it safe less than this. Idk, it feels like more of a luc besson story than a Disney story, and while I know this is a Disney movie it almost feels like they went too far that way.

It's not just just the cul de sac at all, although that didn't help.
posted by emptythought at 4:44 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


One of the first books I can remember loving. Unfortunately, the trailer isn't doing it for me... too Mockingjay daygo colory.
posted by xammerboy at 5:42 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


In conclusion: Madeleine L'Engle may have been a bit of a monster.

There is a wonderful New Yorker article (here, though possibly only accessible to subscribers) about her that I think was published around the time she passed away, that includes not only interviews with her, but also with her children. My big takeaway is that she was...complex. And probably not terribly nice to have as a parent. Her children definitely did not put her on a pedestal, and I believe one of her sons, who Charles Wallace was based on, died of alcoholism-related causes, with one of his siblings noting that it was very hard to try to be a Charles Wallace.

I really liked reading the range of answers in this thread. I have a strange affinity for L'Engle's specifically New England sensibly-dressed and highly-intellectual Christianity; I think that's a large part of why I love all her Murray books, even the weird/racist/super-problematic ones. I can absolutely see how they'd turn people off, though.

(The Austins, however, can go jump in a fuckin' lake.)
posted by kalimac at 6:04 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I would disagree with ya'll that are scared to go re-read it; re-read it. Interrogate it. Figure out what is still good (I think there is stuff there, especially in Meg's characterization) and what is not. If ya'll were in my book club and this was the book I would ask you to discuss:

1. Is Charles Wallace critical to this book, or annoying?
2. Did you also grow up and feel disappointed that you did not transform from awkward nerdy preteen into a superhot scientist lady as the book said Meg would?
3. What about that whole preteen romance with Calvin? Good or icky?
4. What was L'Engle trying to say about his family, also?
5. Did the planet with Aunt Beast blow your mind as you tried to wrap it around "how would you explain sight to a species that doesn't have eyes?"
6. Wait, they are supposed to be able to perceive light, but how would a species perceive light without a photosensitive organ?
7. What was up with that centaur planet? Do you also imagine it as a Peter Max poster?
8. Discuss Camazotz as it relates to the 50s/60s fear of conformity/Man in the Grey Flannel Suit cliche/fear of Soviet-style centralization.
posted by emjaybee at 7:20 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


HOWEVER, I was being serious, and let me try to explain. I called it "fascist" because Who, Which, and Whatsit basically just show up and tell the kids what to do throughout with no real justification than "trust us! We're the good guys!"

...I'd probably try for a slightly more useful and adult definition of "fascism" than "fighting on the side of a lawful authority is good."

Rogue One was a Disney movie in a conservative franchise and it basically came out only a little less dark than L'Armee des Ombres, so despite the studio and "polished" look I'm not yet ready to conclude this will be superficial. It's definitely a possibility, though.
posted by praemunire at 7:21 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I think even L'Engle knew that she had some problematic shit in her earlier books - like, Calvin's mom is essentially The Slattern Out Of Central Casting, and while she makes sure to touch on Reasons Why in A Swiftly Tilting Planet, it never really makes up for quite how terrible it was to have "And now here's the Terrible Poor Mom!" Like, I defy anyone, anyone, out there, including Meg's scientist mother, to have ELEVEN CHILDREN and no money and not have succumbed to despair, even before you get into all the horrific child abuse stuff.
posted by corb at 7:30 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I think what was relatable to me about Meg was certainly not her brilliance or her family, but her inchoate unhappiness.

My memory of that character is that she's unhappy, and she can't think her way out of it, and there's tension there, it's uncomfortable.

A lot of unhappiness in children's books is fairly easily resolved -- the child wants something or doesn't want something and at the end of the 3-act structure the circumstances are resolved and so is the unhappiness. Some of Meg's unhappiness is certainly circumstantial, but in my memory the book is about her learning to manage her feelings, rather than waiting for the plot to resolve them for her.
posted by mrmurbles at 7:34 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


I just finished rereading the novel (like, an hour ago), and I enjoyed it, though I remembered it being more complex than it was. The religious stuff felt fairly similar to a UU service -- Jesus is mentioned as "of course!" one of the beings from Earth fighting against the darkness, along with Bach, da Vinci, some mathematicians, Gandhi, and a bunch of other humanitarians/philosophers/artists. It's heavy-handed and clunky (even Meg gets bored with the recitation), but it's not exactly Jesus-above-all. Lots of God-above-all, but even that doesn't feel super-exclusively Christian. And given that the creatures from other planets continually marvel about how humans have such a limited understanding of the universe, I think a decent argument could be made about the thing called "God" not necessarily matching any human conceptions of God.

My favorite of the first three novels (never read any of the rest) was A Wind in the Door, though, so I'll probably start that one tonight. I may leave off after that one.

I am excited for the film even though it will likely not match any conception I have of the books. Meg and Charles Wallace look perfect. I had forgotten until this re-read how young both of them were.
posted by lazuli at 8:30 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm alone in remembering a ton of stuff from the book (helped by the fact that I read it many times). I see what people are saying about the Christian allegory. I never noticed it as a kid (I wasn't the most observant reader, tbh), but it's clearly there. OTOH, as books with Christian allegory go, it's fairly gentle stuff. There are plenty of books that exist for no other purpose than to shove Jesus/God/The Bible down your throat and make you like it. AWiT is not like that.

I read the second one (and agree with whoever said it's unfilmable) and I'm sure I read the third one but, after reading the plot summary on Wikipedia, it would appear that I didn't. I read one other book in the series (Many Waters). Maybe it was because I was older when I read it, but hooo boy. That book sucked. It is also much more explicitly religious, although I don't know if that's related to the sucking.

I am absolutely delighted by the casting (even though Meg is specifically mentioned as having mousy brown hair and her mother red hair, because that's the sort of shit I remember after 40 years) because (a) why the hell not and (b) it will annoy stupid people.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:16 PM on July 16


"There is a wonderful New Yorker article (here, though possibly only accessible to subscribers) "

I was able to read it and WOW, that was a heck of an article, everyone should go read it, great find!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:55 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Loved the book; love the trailer. It seems perfect in tone to me, if not slavishly faithful to detail. Chris Pine as the dad seemed immediately perfect. I've never been a fan of Oprah's acting, but she looks perfect in this.

It looks iconic, and I want it now.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:37 AM on July 17


In the late 70s and early 80s, when I was growing up, I felt like the only smart, awkward kid EVER who totally bounced off AWIT. I just found it turgid, despite giving it a try several times. I don't know that I ever read it all the way through, and I certainly never read a sequel.

I'm getting that feeling again.
posted by uberchet at 7:42 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I love this series, even on a re-read as an adult a few years ago....the Austins books really didn't hold up, though (actually I didn't really like those as a kid either, come to think of it). I do recognize some problematic aspects, but that depiction of a smart girl saving the day was rare when I was a kid and so very important to me, in a way that I don't think people who grew up later with more girl heroines can understand. And as both a child and an adult I was super disappointed Meg subsumed her brilliance to Calvin's career. I am soo excited for this movie and will definitely see it and I never ever see movies (I have seen literally one single movie in the last three years, the first new Star Wars movie). I wish they had kept it in New England though, as someone growing up not too far from where the books were set, the location felt very real to me and was part of what I loved about them.

That said, I do have a serious problem with the casting...Calvin is supposed to have RED hair. RED RED, not that fancy auburny shade. I've watched the trailer three times already and it bothers me every single time.
posted by john_snow at 10:35 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Seconding the New Yorker article; it's a great summary of her life, including the major theme that yes, being the children of a great artist can suck. Still, she led a fascinating life.

AWIT has that great theme of "our parents can be disappointing sometimes!" Which is how I felt in the 1980s when I sat down to read my favorite author again in "A House Like a Lotus" and was like wait, she had trouble with gay people? WTH??
posted by Melismata at 1:44 PM on July 17


R. Eric Thomas has a very delightful take on the trailer. On Oprah's looks:

I need to purchase an architectural white wig immediately. I call this lewk Dragon Ball Zora Neale Hurston and it already won a Pulitzer Prize
posted by emjaybee at 1:51 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


I'm in camp "the texture seems wrong." The casting looks great, actually, but the colors and aesthetic seem completely off to me. Same problem I had with the "Golden Compass" film, actually.

But hey, I liked the book enough to give it a shot.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:54 AM on July 18


Man, I remember being so pumped when I heard Ava DuVernay would be directing this, and then I got even more pumped when I heard that she was choosing people for her production team that weren't part of the established sci-fi/fantasy movie world already, and then I got ridiculously pumped when I saw the cast. So I'm sitting here wrinkling my nose and aiming major side-eye at the folks who won't go see this because it doesn't look exactly like what they've imagined or the Mrs. W's look too glam or whatever. Damn, y'all. How on earth can we claim that we want diversity in film, and we want women like Ms. DuVernay to get more opportunities, if we shut down after less than 3 minutes of footage and refuse to take a bite?

Anyway, I'm still pumped. Book adaptations basically never look like what I imagined in my own head, ever, and I don't think I've ever seen an adaptation that didn't deviate from the source material in at least minor if not hugely major ways, so I don't get the hue and cry over changing Camazotz to look more like a current soulless American HOA neighborhood than a 4 decades out of date Soviet inspired gray pile of sadness, but.... y'all do you, I guess, but maybe stop pretending you support diversity in filmmaking if this is how you support black filmmakers.
posted by palomar at 4:23 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


From the little we have seen, the film's vision is very different from the book's. That's not necessarily a bad thing! The book was problematic in some ways and any film is going to be intrinsically different from its source material. So this is only going to be an observation, not a criticism.

1) The gradual revelation of the three Mrs W.'s in the book was significant: they start as mysterious, possibly-crazy old ladies who steal clothes, but they gradually get revealed as great and powerful beings engaged in a macro-scale battle that reflects the children's own struggle. I think the early stage was necessary for us to maintain our identification with the "witches" when they were revealed.

2) Camazotz is supposed to be a scarily conformist place, without cute little touches. The pastel suburb didn't work for me: it's too sophisticated a vision of conformity and (without exposition that we haven't seen yet) it's hard to see how it would scare you into conformity. The implied fear is important, because Meg's rebellion consists of her owning her differences in the face of pressure to conform.

3) I'll go along with the people who say everything looks too clean: in the book, everything (down to Calvin's red hair!) signals that the kids don't fit in; neither do the witches; and that although the kids don't yet know it, not-fitting-in is their strength and sign of their ability to resist It. So the fact the kids look perfect makes me worry that Disney is going to substitute a different value, like the ability to sing in key. On the other hand, Meg does look right for a Meg, despite not looking like Meg. And this is obviously early in production, and there are more ways to not fit in than wearing scruffy clothes.

4) Perfect is the enemy of the good and so forth, and I'm still going to be looking forward to this.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:01 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Which is how I felt in the 1980s when I sat down to read my favorite author again in "A House Like a Lotus" and was like wait, she had trouble with gay people?

That was so startling to me on adult re-read!! First she has the adult lesbian character get drunk and hit on (or accost? I had trouble sorting out precisely what happened) her teenaged protagonist. And *then,* the rest of the family tries to get her to smooth things over with ... I think it was Max. I found it baffling.

Anyway, I came back to the thread to say that I read the New Yorker article and it was great, and thank you kalimac for sharing.
posted by bunderful at 7:00 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


(Glad you guys liked the New Yorker article! I was bored at work last week and randomly searched Madeleine L'Engle's name in their archive, so hooray for good timing.)

Camazotz is supposed to be a scarily conformist place, without cute little touches. The pastel suburb didn't work for me: it's too sophisticated a vision of conformity and (without exposition that we haven't seen yet) it's hard to see how it would scare you into conformity. The implied fear is important, because Meg's rebellion consists of her owning her differences in the face of pressure to conform.

Huh, interesting. This might be in one of those file-under-things-I-only-realize-as-an-adult, but I wonder if this comes down to what constitutes terrifying conformity for different generations. Camazotz when L'Engle was writing (and when a lot of us first read it) is a pretty good match for an idea of what life must be like behind the Iron Curtain; my memory of the descriptions is that they're not too different from books like Metropole, and definitely the boogeyman of Communism. And now terrifying sameness...is the suburbs? Is the myth of a Pleasantville full of HOA's and middle class people and the 50's?

This is a bit of a silly metaphor -- I mean, Cheever was writing this stuff ages ago, it's not even necessarily of our time -- but I'm looking forward to seeing this movie for a LOT of reasons, and one of them is now how to translate the fears and nightmares and victories.
posted by kalimac at 7:16 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


oh, man, Palomar, not sure if you were referring to my comment! I'm sorry it came across that way. I definitely absolutely will see this (and I NEVER see movies), so that's a big statement for me. I was a little disappointed about Calvin's red hair (Calvin was one of my first literary crushes! I Have Opinions about him) but whatever, I'll get over it - it's not like a real flaw or anything that would stop me.

I actually liked the updating of Camazotz to suburban American 50s/HOA - thought that was perfect commentary for now....
posted by john_snow at 9:00 AM on July 21


So I'm sitting here wrinkling my nose and aiming major side-eye at the folks who won't go see this because it doesn't look exactly like what they've imagined or the Mrs. W's look too glam or whatever.

I'm not saying I won't ever see this, to be clear. But for me, the 40-60$, between tickets and popcorn, to see this with my family in theaters, is a non-trivial expense. So my choice is really "do I want to spend 40-60$, which is maybe my entire entertainment budget for a week, to get my heart broken and feel sad about something I love and identify with deeply, or do I want to spend that money in another way and check the movie out later when it's on Netflix or Amazon Prime or HBO for free and the risk vs reward calculation is different."
posted by corb at 10:26 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I kind of have a kneejerk reaction to any beloved book being turned into a movie because I've been burned so many times. Especially children's books, because suddenly you can't escape all the advertising, the merchandising, the Happy Meal toys and so forth. So I wasn't even going to look at the trailer. Didn't know who the director was. But then I just had to take a peek and...wow.

That said, I remember my favorite English teacher saying that he refused ever to see The Great Gatsby because seeing Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby would end up ruining the book for him, even though the film was by all accounts excellent. The worlds that readers create from a given text are fragile, private, and highly individual, and while seeing someone else's conception of that text can expand and transform that world (as I now think Ava Duvernay's AWIT is likely to--at least for me), it can also destroy that world forever, no matter how well it's been done. So although I think reluctant AWIT fans should take a chance on this one, I don't think anyone should be shamed for exercising her prerogative not to.
posted by tully_monster at 11:27 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


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