Sunday, December 20, 2009


"And when he came to the place where the wild things are, they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws till Max said, "Be still" and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once. And they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things." Where the Wild Things Are (1963)

The most extraordinary thing about film as a medium is that it brings to life the completely unexpected. Where the Wild Things Are (2009) is Spike Jonze's adaptation of the Sendak's classic children's book, both an adventurous and daunting task.

Book adaptations (and the ever-popular remake) have been a recent trend in the last couple years, from Jane Austen novels to Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. But Sendak's novel and the subsequent film, a tale of growing up in its own right, belongs in a category of its own.

Without Spike Jonze, the world would never have the Beastie Boys' Sabotage or Being John Malkovich and his vision for the Wild Things film. His take on the book is a romantic, vivid mix of colors, dark and light, that line and move every sense of the film: how children see the world, how the grow up, and how often they understand more than we know.

This film is undoubtedly stunning. It stays faithful to the original premise of the book, of how it feels to be a child and a child in a world that has no patience for understanding. It's a world that's both very much alive and vibrant and very, very scary. From start to finish, you find yourself walking back into that place, when you're a kid, and everything is supposed to be terrifying real in a way that no one else is supposed to get or adults, themselves, grow up to forget. People forget how brave children are, and how they initially cope with change or new things that come into their lives. And with that in mind, the film is wonderfully apt at capturing that experience.

If there's any film to see during the holidays, Where the Wild Things are is a definite must.

(Also, check out the soundtrack written by the ever-stylish, amazing Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs! A sample Karen O and the Kids - Rumpus.)

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