Who, Which, Whatsit: Thoughts on the New Wrinkle in Time Adaptation

A Wrinkle in Time is an incredible book, a Newbery Award-winner, and a staple from my childhood bookshelf.

It is one of the first books I remember reading that I specifically understood in terms of it representing the speculative fiction genre, and as my awareness of the genre grew and I re-read it, it introduced me to the idea that fantasy and science can be mixed. Madeline L'Engle was a true visionary.

It's a book that has stuck with me even in adulthood, and very few years, I re-read it again. It challenges me to imagine bigger.

In particular, there is a stunning creature in the second book of the series, A Wind in the Door, that always stood out in my memory: Proginoskes, a quite snippy cherubim who, as Charles Wallaces describes him, looks like "a drive of dragons."

proginsokes

Incredible, yes? Also, an excellent choice for a tattoo, in my opinion (don't steal it, I call dibs).

And let's not forget to pay tribute to this books amazing heroine, Meg: math genius, klutz, and the most very loyal of friends. She is the original Strong Female Protagonist, and the ultimate underdog.

I love everything about her, and I appreciate L'Engle even more for making her hero 1) a young girl, 2) is an absolute genius, but 3) just can't seem to make it click at school. Especially in my high school years, this resonated so much for me (sans the "genius" part. I was pretty darn good at math, but definitely not genius).

For obvious reasons (longstanding popularity, incredible visuals) there have been repeated rumors of A Wrinkle in Time movie adaptation over the years. One adaptation made it to TV screens in 2003 and won the Toronto Children's Film Festival's Best Feature Film Award, but didn't make much of a splash (as far as I remember) with broader audiences.

Enter Disney

Which is why it's so exciting to see the buzz around Disney's new adaptation effort, especially as the rumors actually have started to materialize into a cast. So exciting!

Intriguingly, the first characters to be cast were not the leads, but some key supporting cast: the Mrs. Who, Which and Whatsit.

Mrs. Who: Mindy Kaling

mindy

Mrs. Which:  Reese Witherspoon

reese

Mrs. Whatsit: Oprah

oprah

Discussion Time

First off, I am ALWAYS an advocate for diverse casting choices. Yes, yes, yes! Let's stop assuming non-specified race means "white." All about this.

But these particular ladies give a very different interpretation of the Ms. W's than I took from the book.

To me, the W's have gravitas. They are wisdom. They are mystery. They are as close to omniscience as this story gets. In my imagination, I behold them as akin to the depths of wonder--like guardian angels, or something.

This posse, however, is more of a comedic matchup (at least, Kaling and Witherspoon).

Which challenged how I think about the Ms. W's. Because my interpretation ignores a key trait of these characters. They are also quirky oddballs, who clearly struggle to fit into modern society on Earth, which manifests in some very humorous ways. And these ladies are going to nail that. Oprah is likely to keep a little gravitas present, as well.

One additional factor here is that the Ms. W's in the books are said to be quite old. The ladies cast for these roles, however, are not old. And I am really quite fed up with women over 30 being cast as "old" in Hollywood terms.

But ... I'm not sure that's what they're doing here. It's possible--and I hope against hope this is true--that they are intentionally making the W's younger for the movies. This certainly would match the acting style and vivacity of their casting choices.

A Knock-Out Team

Beyond the casting so far, they have made some really interesting choices with the crew. Jennifer Lee is the writer adapting the script--the co-writer of Frozen. So she definitely has my trust when it come to creating compelling female characters for the big screen. The team also features Ava DuVernay as its director, who is known for films including Selma.

Looking at early cast calls for the story's young main characters, it's clear that the Ms. W's diversity is no accident. Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin are all specified as mixed-race.

High fives all around, people. Can't wait to watch this.

excited

What do you think about the new A Wrinkle in Time adaptation?

 

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