Madeline L’Engle’s science fantasy novel, A Wrinkle in Time was published in 1962, it was turned down 26 times. Among the reasons the author cited, it had a female protagonist in a science fiction novel that dealt overtly with the problem of evil. Did I mention it's for kids, it was a radical piece of literature at the time. The book is now being released as a film in theaters helmed by Selma director, Ava DuVernay.
The book's themes and that of DuVernay's career trajectory will explode onto the screen, like the light emanating from the tip of a magical Unicorns horn. With it's diverse cast DuVernay tackles the themes of social conformity, death and the battle of light over darkness. DuVernay, while speaking to a small intimate gathering at the W hotel in Hollywood for the "What She Said" series, created to drive progress in the gender equality movement, said she “hopes the film will be something cool for kids to see."
Storm Reid plays Meg Murrey, a slightly awkward outcast with brains and the right amount of brashness. She is child of both a scientist mom and dad, unfortunately her dad is gone, but he's not dead. She learns he's lost in the universe, from her three eccentric neighbors. Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which. They tell Meg, along with her brother Charles Wallace and the equally awkward but way more popular Calvin it’s their job to find him. In doing so, they will encounter The Black Thing, which is essentially the personification of evil.
Mrs Whatsit mentions the tesseract, the object her dad was working on, which enables people to travel through dimensions of time and space. They learn their father has been trapped on the planet Camazotz, which has been taken over by The Black Thing. But they must oppose this force in order to save their father.
Le’Engle’s niece, Charlotte Jones Voiklis says “Camazotz is a planet that has succumbed to darkness. It is one manifestation of evil: a conformist, bureaucratic, authoritarian state. Many people see it as an allegory for Communism. Adding “My grandmother was very clear that it was not, that democracies also could become dark through a "lust for security." However Voiklis related how her grandmothers story from over 50 years ago relates to our current polarized nation, specifically how “she never defined the darkness, because that was different for everyone, but we all have the capacity to fight it. Part of that fight is resistance to polarized thinking and making assumptions about people.”
Oprah Winfrey at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles Monday said, “This movie would’ve been appropriate in 1962 but couldn’t have gotten made, but it is even more appropriate now during this moment in time.” Adding, “The fact that Ava DuVernay is the one that pulls it all together is not lost on the cosmos.”
DuVernay mentions her battles on twitter with President Trump. The director said making this kids film saved her in many ways from stewing and tweeting mean things to the President. Instead she got to channel that into "designing a flower" or some other worldly visual for the film.
DuVernay spoke about her two decades in the industry and how she worked as a publicist for years before getting to helm a film. She added “I’m an anomaly,” while also mentioning Black Panther's Ryan Coogler and Moonlight's Barry Jenkins and Mudbound's Dee Rees. "When you can name us all on two hands, that’s not change. We sit on top of a broken system. Unless there is systemic change, we’re just the sparkly stuff on top that makes people feel good.”
The director says of her struggle in the industry, "every 10 years or so there is this surge of minority and women directors." She received valuable advice from one of her co-stars, who also happens to be a billionaire twice over. Oprah told DuVernay, “This bad thing’s not happening to you, but for you. You have to figure out why.” Perhaps she has figured out why, at least for this film. With "A Wrinkle in Time," DuVernay becomes the first African American woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of more than $100 million.
And the film, with it's message of the evilness of extremism and the strength and determination of Meg, to use all of her skills and be a warrior could actually be a message for a polarized nation, that we never, ever end up like Camazotz. The Film opens March 9th