Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sendak tells parents worried about the film of his book to go to Where the Wild Things Are!

Controversy has flared over the launch of Spike Jonze's adaptation of the Maurice Sendak's book Where the Wild Things Are.
Like the book, first published in 1963, the row, or rumpus as the book might have it, has erupted because some parents are worried that the images in the film will frighten the bejesus out of children because they are so unsettling. Sendak, not known for his willingness to suffer fools gladly, has apparently responded by saying that he would tell such parents to 'go to hell'. He went on to criticise Disney for the way it has sanitised Mickey Mouse. According to a recent interview with Newsweek, he remarked that "Mickey did things to Minnie that were not nice. I think what happened was that he became so popular – this is my own theory – they gave his cruelty and his toughness to Donald Duck. And they made Mickey a fat nothing. He's too important for products. They want him to be placid and nice and adorable. He turned into a schmaltzer."
In the same interview, he also made the point that "Kids are barbaric. They really have to be. They don't know what it is to be polite or nice. There is a toughness to being a child. Childhood is a very tough time. I always had a deep respect for children and how they solve complex problems by themselves." This is definitely one in the eye for Rousseau's myth of childhood innocence.
The release of Where the Wild Things Are coincides with the opening last week of The Fantastic Mr Fox, another uncompromising film that doesn't shy away from confronting childlike anxieties.
If this is the beginning of a move against all those cloying, mawkish Hollywood kid flicks, bring it on I say.

2 comments:

  1. Three cheers for Maurice Sendak. We need more of him.

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  2. You're right, Gini!
    Philip Glassborow did a very nice piece on Where the Wild Things Are, which included snatches of an interview with Sendak on Radio 4 not long ago: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00c5j0j. Unfortunately, they haven't made it available to 'listen again'.

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