Let the Wild Rumpus begin!

March 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Why does everything halfway magical or mysterious have to be set in the seventies?  

I couldn’t help but think about this the entire time I was watching Where the Wild Things Are.  Yes, I know I’m a little slow on the uptake, and I never had the time or opportunity to see the film in theatres.  So when I visited my fiance in Boston this past week, he rented the movie for me so I could entertain myself during the day while everyone was at work.

And as wonderfully crafted as I think the movie is, I still can’t get past the fact that it was set in the seventies.  Was this instrumental for the movie to occur?  Because if I remember correctly, I heard about the sun exploding in my elementary years in the early 2000s.  And in high school I received my first pair of Chuck Taylors which I still wear.  It’s 2010 and my grandmother still has the same wood paneling as the house Max lives in, and the children I nanny are fascinated with cardboard boxes of any size and beg me to build a fort with them.

So it begs the question, does the movie have to be set in the seventies?  Is this era instrumental for the story to progress?  What is it about that era that seems so aloof, so mysterious?

But apart from ragging on the time period, the movie was fantastic.

For a brief comment on the characters of the Wild Things, they look identical to Maurice Sendak’s illustrations in the book.  So, kudos to whatever the technology is called that created them.  And the costume that Max wore to look like a wolf, so cute.


Which is why I have so many pictures in this blog.  The movie itself was just visually pleasing.  That, plus the music playing throughout made it a wonderful, visual narrative.

I think the most interesting aspect about this movie was that it is so not a children’s movie.  And it’s not because of language or inappropriate material, but children just wouldn’t understand what is happening.  Because the movie is all about the infinite sadness that comes along with childhood.  That feeling deep down in the pit of your stomach that everything might not be okay, that the people you love leave you, and that the world is absolutely cruel.

I don’t really care what people say about the hope or the joy of children, that they are immune to the cares of the world and because of their childlike innocence they do not know the depths of sadness or fear.  These descriptions are not terribly accurate of what it means to be a child.  Because in remembering my own childhood, I relished in melting ice cream on sunny days, the air rushing in my ears as I climb higher on the swings, and the ache of knowing, just knowing, that the sun really is going to explode at any minute and there will be nothing left in the world.

In Sendak’s book, Max simply acts bad.  Which is why he doesn’t get to eat his supper and he goes to play with the wild things.  In the movie, Max is plagued with loneliness, sadness, and fear and he acts the only way he knows how to deal with it, by getting into his wolf costume and being a “wild thing.”  He flees in a desperate attempt to find that place that he knows must exist that keeps all the bad things out.  Even the other characters, the actual Wild Things, are all in search of an all-encompassing happiness that knows no loneliness, sadness, or betrayal.

So to appreciate the movie, you’re going to have to embrace your inner child.  And that doesn’t just mean all the good things about being a kid.  You’re going to have to embrace good with the bad. 

Let the wild rumpus begin.


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