"Wild" hits screens

Posted by Alexa Allaniello The wild rumpus started in 1963 when author and illustrator Maurice Sendak depicted a young boy's journey through the land of the "Wild Things," in a book that has been enjoyed by children and adults alike for decades. Without compromising the integrity of the original story, director Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation") turned the 48-page, 9-sentence children's book into a curious and imaginative motion picture.

In Jonze's rendition of "Where the Wild Things Are," preadolescent Max is - endearingly - out of control. The audience is introduced to his unrestrained imagination during the opening credits, which are transformed into childlike doodles. There is innocence to his character in that he wants everyone - from his irritable sister to his distracted mother - to be as content and carefree as he is.

Distressed by his torn family, Max sets out on a deliberate, manipulative and irrepressible quest for attention by acting out. When this tactic proves ineffective, as the story goes, he "sailed off...to where the wild things are."

Upon encountering the Wild Things, Max realizes they need just as much help as he does. He promises to help restore the balance in the kingdom of the Wild Things, and they subsequently deem him "King." From then on Max and the Wild Things become a unit, which provides Max with the security he lacked back at home.

Among the Wild Things are the compassionate KW, the repressed Alexander and the tenacious yet bighearted Carol. Carol and Max sympathize with each other: either of their units - in Max's case, his family - fell apart faster than they could realize, and they both want to make things OK.

As in the story, Max realizes after a while that he was missing something with the Wild Things that he had all along: the love of his family. He eventually returns home to the loving embrace of his mother, "where he found his supper waiting for him...and it was still hot."

Jonze unquestionably conserves the original story that we all know and love throughout the film. The Wild Things and Max's wolf costume are real-life copies of Sendak's illustrations, and Jonze uses the same murky coloration and woodsy element portrayed in the book. Max is also as simultaneously rebellious and charming as he is in the book, and the Wild Things are as untamable as he is.

Jonze nonetheless has his own interpretation of the story. He and screenplay writer Dave Eggers create a back story in that Max's family is torn by divorce and he finds refuge in his imagination. Also, unlike in the book, there is no evidence of whether the scenes depict Max's fantasy or reality.

There is no doubt that the film is offbeat and avant-garde. The music, composed by Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Carter Burwell, consists of strange clapping, whistling and humming that subtly emphasizes Max's childlike innocence. The unconventional cinematic techniques show movement and transcendence throughout the film. Jonze also uses subtle digital enhancement that contributes to, but does not overshadow, the realistic nature of the wild things.

Although "Where The Wild Things Are" is considered children's literature, the intended audience of the film appears to be adults -particularly parents. Jonze declared in the Seattle Post, "The one thing I hope is that there would be some conversations, and that a parent might actually be able to talk to their kid in a different way and ask their kid what they think, and not worry about how they're going to turn out. But be curious as to who they are."

The film reveals a powerful message about perseverance and accepting whatever life throws your way without having to sacrifice the wild thing inside of you. It is definitely a must-see, so be sure to wear your wolf costume, and "let the wild rumpus start!"

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