A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle is hitting theaters in less than a year, and it’s looking even better than we expected!
The beloved YA novel, a unique mix of science, fantasy and quirkiness, is finally becoming a film adaptation. At its helm is Ava DuVernay, the renowned director of Academy Award nominated films such as Selma and 13th, making history by being the first woman of color to direct such a big-budget film.
Starring an exciting mix of familiar faces and newcomers, there are many reasons to be enthusiastic about A Wrinkle in Time. Late last year, DuVernay released a Mannequin Challenge video starring the movie’s cast and crew, and revealed the release date: April 6, 2018.
Filming concluded on March 12, and we’ve been treated to quite a few photos of Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin. But with less than a year between us and the premiere, there’s much more making us eager to see the movie. A Wrinkle in Time is shaping up to be one of the most remarkable films of 2018.
A promising book-to-film translation
A Wrinkle in Time is a unique novel, blending science with fantasy and even an interesting undercurrent of spirituality — a fascinating combination that is a constant throughout Madeline L’Engle’s books. Few series have managed to meld mysticism with science in such a believable way… one that somehow leaves us satisfied at the end of the story, even though we feel like we actually know less than we did in the beginning.
The main character, Meg, so troubled and emotionally raw, is both hard to deal with and easy to empathize with — a complex character/audience relationship if there ever was one. Characters like Charles Wallace, Mrs. Whatsit, Aunt Beast, and of course, the dreaded IT, are seared into our memory from our childhoods, and the film will have to reach high to do them justice. That’s why the task of writing the movie’s screenplay is an extremely important one.
Thankfully, the screenwriter in question is Jennifer Lee, writer and director of Frozen, co-director of Wreck-It Ralph, and story contributor to Zootopia. With Disney behind A Wrinkle in Time, it’s no surprise that they would choose one of their best for the movie, but it’s particularly encouraging that the writer in question has experienced with nuanced stories.
The mysticism of A Wrinkle in Time, sprinkled out across the story through both plot and the occasional gems of knowledge dropped by all of the characters, not the least by a prodigious 5-year-old, is what makes it a classic. After Zootopia blew us away with its ability to be both a family movie and an exploration of discrimination in society, it seems that A Wrinkle in Time’s screenplay is in good hands.
A uniquely diverse cast
DuVernay is taking a refreshing approach with the film, as we discovered when casting calls first went out: the Murry family is a mixed-race family. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine will star as Meg and Charles Wallace’s parents, with Meg and Charles Wallace played by Storm Reid and Deric McCabe.
The addition of Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, promises the same entertaining and loveable tone of the books. And Mr. Jenkins, whose role becomes more prominent in A Wrinkle in Time’s sequel — perhaps Disney is thinking about it already? — is being played by André Holland. Interestingly, the role of the Happy Medium will be played by Zach Galifianakis.
It makes for one of the most diverse casts to date, and DuVernay refuses to lower her standards when it comes to making the film a shining example of real representation: “Inclusion is really half — half of the cast, half of the directors, half of the writers are women or girls, half of the room, more than half of the room is of color,” she told Elle.
With such a large audience excited to see the film, and the movie itself having so much potential, it’s important to realize just how much A Wrinkle in Time has the power to set a precedent when it comes to representation on set, both in cast and crew and in the storytelling itself.
The theme of ‘being different,’ taken to a whole new level
Meg’s journey is about accepting that she is different, and finding joy in what makes her unique. A great source of distress for her is the way that others perceive her and her family: as crazy, or stupid, or broken. She struggles to come to terms with the fact that her family is unusual, and that she is different.
While this theme was already very profound to begin with, making the Murry family biracial opens an entirely new dimension (no pun intended) to the story. It adds a new element to a family that was already intellectually and behaviorally separate from the town that surrounds them, and to the malice in the gossip about the relationship between Meg and Charles Wallace’s parents.
It’s even more fascinating that Calvin is being played by a white actor. In the original series, Meg and Calvin’s relationship only grows stronger as the story progresses, and eventually leads to them getting married. With a terrible lack of representation when it comes to on-screen interracial couples, it will be wonderful to see both the Murry adults’ and Meg and Calvin’s relationship unfold.
Looking back at the book, Meg’s own words when fighting against IT, and the way it seeks to submit individuals to be exactly the same, holds a lot more depth.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident!” she shouted, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (…)
“But that’s exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike.”
For a moment her brain reeled with confusion. Then came a moment of blazing truth. “No!” she cried triumphantly. “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!”
Her combination of the United States Declaration of Independence with IT’s argument that diversity and equality can never exist together resounds with particular force in our global discourse today, and is sure to be very significant when the film is released in 2018.
As we draw closer to the long-expected premiere, there’s still much in store as further stills are released, and eventually trailers. Meanwhile, it’s time to re-read A Wrinkle in Time and discover all the ways that the book’s charm can be further developed in film.