We have just spent the afternoon with his fifth grade class, taking in the movie Where the Wild Things Are.
Now Jeffrey is trying to articulate his thoughts about the film.
“I didn’t like it when he ran away from home. And, he didn’t leave the island at the best time, did he? Nothing really worked out right.”
He thinks for a moment and then adds:
“It was kind of sad, wasn’t it?”
I dab my eyes and nod, sniff back tears that have shed down my throat and into sinuses.
Yes, it was sad. Made sadder by memories of my own–memories I thought left far behind, scabbed over now. But this stark cinematography and sparse script captured perfectly the feelings of alienation and loneliness I felt as a child of divorce. The shattered world left behind for Max whispered ghost-pictures of upheaval and loss that I still grieve at times.
I think I effectively hid my tears from Jeffrey’s classmates… concealed my face by resting cheek in hand. Glancing around, I realized few of them grasped the deeper tones of the story. They eyed the screen expectantly waiting for something…anything exciting to happen.
But, as Jeffrey says, nothing really worked out right, did it?
We talk about the differences between the book and the movie. Jeffrey, sharp eye that he is, did not miss the message that Max’s parents were divorced (or separated).
“That’s not in the book,” he states flatly.
We talk about the gift of imagination the book gives, and how this story is just one possible way of reading between the lines. We talk about how Max expressed his emotions and how these things were mirrored in his imaginary “wild” world–how he figured out through the Wild Things that the way he was acting with his mother was not helping things…How a story sometimes helps us make sense of our worlds.
No, it wasn’t how I expected it to be either. This book that has captured the imaginations of generations–has awakened the wild imagination in so many–it was given a different face for me today. As one reviewer said, this isn’t really a movie for kids; it’s more about being a kid.
But this big kid enjoyed talking about it with her little today.
If you want a movie to feel good about, a story complete with happy endings that ties up all loose ends, don’t go see this movie.
But if you want more…if you want a launch pad for talking about some deep stuff with your kids…this film might just be for you.
It’s pretty wild.