When I graduated from High School, a pastor gave a speech about Where the Wild Things Are. He told us that just as Max had looked into the monsters' yellow eyes, we too needed to face the problems we'll encounter along the way. I've always remembered his advice (even if I've not always followed it) and I think it's because the book itself is so timeless--the monsters have no names or motivations; they are what we make them. And, the theme of the "wild child" is universal. Sometimes we all have to make mischief of one kind and another.
But once we name the monsters and give them voices and opinions and problems of their own, the story becomes of a time. It is cemented in the psyche of today. And, honestly, if Mr. Sendak had wanted his monsters to have backstories, don't you think he would have written them?
Of course, and I realize that this may sound hypocritical, I love it when a children's book is adapted into a play. Perhaps because a stage is limited and therefore much still needs to be left to the imagination. Or, maybe because many adaptations of children's books are down either with the author's assistance or at least his or her approval. When the Kennedy Center adapted Judith Viorst's Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, she worked on the book along with a composer who wrote the songs.
I don't have an answer because I may just end up seeing Where the Wild Things Are if only because the reviews are so good. But I can't help thinking, why ruin a perfectly good book when there are so many original stories out there to tell. I took my kids to see Up and we all loved it. Make a movie like that.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is another favorite book they have turned into a film. I am definitely not going to see it. They have massacred it! My opinion is based solely on the previews so I might be, you know, wrong, but I doubt it.
Well, there's my rant with no conclusion. I guess I really just have questions: have you seen Where the Wild Things Are? Did you like it? Or are you going to skip it?