And now, let the wild rumpus start: the first trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic book has just arrived, premiering for the first time earlier today. The film, directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and scripted by Dave Eggers, is scheduled for an October release. I should admit that I’m probably a little over-invested in this movie, since Sendak’s book constitutes sacred ground in my world. As a kid with a major obsession with escapist literature, Where the Wild Things Are always represented the purest and most honest expression of the desire for freedom, adventure, and control felt in response to the relative powerlessness of being a child in an adult world.
While most children’s lit seeks to gently curb those desires, usually convincing its young protagonists of the ultimate superiority and safety of the grown-up rules of order, Sendak changed the game, allowing his hero, Max, to enjoy himself thoroughly until he’s had his fill and is ready to go home again. The story is so beautifully simple, and the fact that it never moralizes and doesn’t judge sets the book apart, allowing it to speak honestly and without condescension to children and adults for almost five decades. I can only hope that the film, which has been produced with the author’s blessing and cooperation, will capture the same spirit—but at least now we know it looks good. The trailer is strange and beautiful, with fantastic use of light, and Jonze’s decision to use costumed actors rather than CGI or animation certainly seems to work on a visual level. So far, so good—but I’ll be awaiting further developments with crossed fingers and bated breath.