December 22, 2009

To Max.....The World belongs to Dad.

Thats what it says on the placard on Max's globus that is on the bed stand beside his bed.

This is Max's story.

Where The Wild Things Are...

Max is about ten or eleven years old. He lives with his mom and teenage sister. The first glimpse of Max's fragility the viewer experiences is his sisters rejection, when Max asks her to come and to see his igloo, that the snow ploughs had miraculously created. "Go play with your friends", she says in that off-hand way only teenagers have intus. Max has a best friend, his imagination. The transition from loner to player he masters with ease, having a snowball fights with some friends of his sisters. Yet when they destroy his iglo, in the heat of the battle, not out of any malice, he is distraught that she doesn't stick up for him. He allows himself to run wild in her room by smashing things and stomping all over her bed and wall-to-wall-carpeted room with a vengeance.

Finding Max in bed, when she gets home, his mom asks him whats wrong. Max takes her by the hand and shows her what he has done. That poignant gesture, Max taking his mom's hand, tells us the implicit trust mother and son have for each other. He trusts her to understand. Of course she is annoyed, but she understands. All this is done without needless glib dialogue. We as an audience feel the bond, that only a single mom can have with her children.

Max's thing is to go wild when he feels betrayed. And one evening, he feels betrayal and runs away. To wear the wild things are. The creatures are his alter egos. And he sees himself played out in a wild and at times, bleak landscape.

As a grown up, we can retain a child-like wonder for the world. Curiosity. Desire for learning. Desire for changing. Yet we are only children once. That innocence cannot be reproduced as adults. Certain elements we can retain. But the innocence we cannot.

Where The Wild Things Are lets us as adults see and more importantly, feel, again through those eyes and that child's heart. We see the effect of a careless word can have. Personally, I am of the opinion all parents should watch this film. Of course, kids will hopefully love it as well.

The film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's wonderfully imaginative children's book is perfection. My version of perfection. Max Records as Max was wonderful. Catherine Keener was wonderful. The wild things were wonderful. The music. Very Spike Jonze.

I have followed his career for a while now. His name was iconic long before he came into the feature film world. As a music video director and director of ads, his name equated superstardom, and has for years. Thats why this piece of innocence comes as no surprise. A cascade of innocence. A stream of a child's consciousness. A simple plot of a child's loneliness. There is no definitive closure. No solution. There is no linear impression of time. The perception of reality is subjective.

Its a character portrait, an extremely convincing evocation of the persons thoughts. The person's thoughts, is, in this case, a small person........a child. When we feel these, rejection, loneliness, its wrapped in a hopeless clutter of intertextuality. What I mean by that - as we grow older, we acquire those layers of wisdom (or not) like the rings of a tree. A big fat redwood, that doesn't sway as easily with the wind as a birch. Max is a birch. He sways with his feelings, pure and simple.

Spike Jonze did an amazingly simple ad for Ikea that won all the prizes at Cannes a few years ago. This ad gives you a feel of how he can visualize feelings with such depth......I love this guy and can't wait to see what he does next.


PiZT said...

Nice review
part of that was filmed out the road at Mt Arapiles

Tatiana Lensky said...

thank you Nigel. The locations were amazing. One day, one day...I will definitely visit Australia.