First, a confession. I have not read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. There, I’ve said it. I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is. Why haven’t I read this book? Especially when I also write MG SciFi? Well, maybe because I’m a slow reader, and there are so many other more current titles I want to tackle. Or maybe …
Well, let’s put that aside as my reading speed or choices is not the topic of this posting. Rather it’s what hapoens when someone gets the bright idea to turn a popular MG book into a movie.
This thought popped into my mind after having watched, last night, an adaption of L’Engle’s book. I watched it on Netflix. Anyway, the production was fairly good, the effects more than passable, but it made me feel like I was missing so much. Various motifs were repeated over and over, and character depth was something distinctly lacking.
Which makes me recall a saying I’d heard, many, many years ago, that the best movies come from short stories, that novels are better suited to something like a TV mini-series. And I agree. There have ben very few book adaptions I have bern satisfied with, mostly because in trying to be faithfull to “the book”, the movie folk had to slice and dice the book’s story into something of a reasonable film length.
A good, recent example of this is the Harry Potter series. In my opinion, the first two movies did not work as well a they could because the filmmakers decided to be true to the original text. I can only assume they were fearful of making Potter fans angry. Then the third movie came out, and I was pleasantly pleased at how good it was. Why? Well, first off, the filmmakers realized they were making a film that was based on a book. There were scenes from the book that did not appear in the film and vice versa. They made a film, not simply an adaptation.
Maybe that’s what bothered me most about A Wrinkle in Time. It felt like an adaptation rather than a true film.