Book Reviews · Books vs. Movies · Fantasy · Science Fiction · Young Readers/Middle Grade Fiction

Book vs. Movies: A Wrinkle in Time

As many of you know, one of my reading goals for 2021 is to make a sizable dent in my TBR list by reading books that I own but have not read before. Because of this, many of the books I’ve chosen to read (and review) this year have been ones that I’ve read for the very first time. But while I really enjoy reading new books, sometimes I just can’t resist taking the opportunity to re-read old favorites. One of the books I decided to re-read earlier this month was A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.

My copy of the novel, which belonged to my mum when she was a kid, has been read so many times it is literally falling apart.

The main character of A Wrinkle in Time is Margaret (Meg) Murry, a teenage girl who is struggling not only with school, but with the disappearance of her father, a scientist who is working for the government.

One stormy night, a strange woman calling herself Mrs. Whatsit arrives at the Murry’s home. Her visit sets Meg and her baby brother, Charles Wallace, on the path to finding their missing father. It will be a strange and dangerous journey, but fortunately they have help in the form of their friend, Calvin, as well as Mrs. Whatsit and her companions, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which.

It’s been quite a while since the last time I read A Wrinkle in Time, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to revisit the story. The novel is incredibly fast-paced and interesting, and I absolutely adore the characters. I’ve read the novel several times before, and every time I read it, I always find myself having a hard time putting it down.

For me, A Wrinkle in Time has always been something that I would describe as a beloved children’s classic, but did you know that it has also been challenged and banned?

In fact, the novel has actually made the American Library Association’s list of the decade’s “100 most frequently challenged books” two decades in a row (1990-1999 and 2000-2009). If you’d like to learn more about the controversy surrounding the novel, I recommend checking out the following article by Becky Little, “A Wrinkle in Time’s Long Religious Controversy,” which was published on the History Channel’s website in 2018.

As many of you probably know, Disney released a film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time back in 2018, but the book has actually been adapted for film twice.

The first movie adaptation was made for television and released by Miramax in 2003. It stars Katie Stuart as Meg, David Dorfman as Charles Wallace, and Gregory Smith as Calvin.

While this particular adaptation does do a pretty decent job of following the plot of the original novel, there are a number of differences between them.

There are some deleted and/or altered scenes, as well as the inclusion of a few moments that are not present in the novel, which I think many of us have come to expect from film adaptations.

What really bothered me about this adaptation were the changes that were made to the characters themselves. Of the main characters, only Mrs. Whatsit and Charles Wallace really seemed to match their book counterparts. In fact, Alfre Woodard’s portrayal of Mrs. Whatsit was the best part of the movie. I felt like I could connect more to her than to any of the other characters.

As far as the movie’s special effects are concerned, they’re about what you would expect from a made-for-tv movie produced in the early 2000s. That being said, I was really impressed with the sets…especially those used for the scenes in Camazotz. While I have to confess that I pictured the planet differently while I was reading, I thought the production team did a great job of bringing that world to life.

To be honest, I don’t think I will watch this particular adaptation again. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. I am glad that I took the time to watch it, but I definitely prefer reading the original novel.

The Disney adaptation that was released in theaters in 2018 is very similar to the 2003 adaptation in that there are a number of differences between it and L’Engle’s original novel with regard to scenes that were omitted, altered, or added.

There are also some significant differences relating to the structure of the Murry family, which included the exclusion of Meg’s twin brothers from the story.

Where this film really shines is in its characterization. While there were still some differences, the main characters in this movie had much more in common with their novel counterparts, in terms of personality and character development. The development of Meg’s character, for example, which is very important in the novel, felt much more organic and real than it did in the earlier movie adaptation.

The movie features a great cast, which includes (but is not limited to): Storm Reid as Meg, Deric McCabe as Charles Wallace, Levi Miller as Calvin, Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who, and Reese Whitherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit. I particularly enjoyed Reid and Kaling’s performances in this movie.

What I found most impressive about this adaptation was the cinematography, along with the visual and special effects. I also really liked the movie’s soundtrack, which was composed by Ramin Djawadi (who also composed the soundtracks for Game of Thrones and the first Iron Man movie).

This was actually my second time watching this adaptation. I originally saw it with my mum when it came out in theaters, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. It will probably be a while before I choose to watch it again, but I feel sure that I will do so at some point in the future.

When it comes to picking the better of the two adaptations, I don’t know which to choose. The 2003 film is closer to the original novel in terms of its plot, but the 2018 movie does a better job of developing the characters. In all honesty, neither of these films are 100% faithful to the novel. So if that’s what you’re expecting, you may be disappointed with both of them.

That being said, if you’re not concerned about watching a “perfect” adaptation, or you’re just looking for a fun movie to watch as a family, I think you’ll probably enjoy the 2018 adaptation. It’s a very fast-paced, exciting movie, that has a lot to say about love and self-acceptance.

Ultimately, if you really want to experience A Wrinkle in Time for yourself, I recommend picking up a copy of the novel rather than one of its movie adaptations. It’s a wonderful book that I’m sure you’ll enjoy, especially if you’re a fan of children’s classics and fantasy/science fiction novels. It would also be a great choice for your Banned Books Week reading.

Happy reading!

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