A Wrinkle in Time (2018) is a sci-fi/fantasy film directed by Ava DuVernay. When the audience is first introduced to the protagonist Meg, played by Storm Reid, her father has been gone for four years, and the family doesn’t know why. Then one by one Meg starts meeting Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which because of her little brother Charles Wallace. The Mrs. W’s tell Meg they can help find her father and bring him home. Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend, Calvin, go with the mysterious women on a space adventure through tessering, in hopes of saving the children’s father. The book was written by Madeleine L’Engle and originally published in 1962. For this week’s adaptation the focus will be on things that the movie changed from the book that had an overall positive impact for the viewers.
In the film industry, often when a new movie is being made it is another form of a story that has already been told. Sometimes though this is intentional and is called an adaptation, and most times this is when a movie is made from using material from a piece of text, a book, videogame, another film, etc. When this happens, we can examine it and look deeper into the film with the theory of adaptation. In my first blog of Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen, I will be explaining the ideas of fidelity, the essence of the medium, plot, and characters when it comes to movie adaptations.
When an adaptation is made most people want the movie to be as faithful to the original work as much as possible. If not, they often get upset about it, which leads to poor reviews. This tends to happen when a film adaption fails to capture what the previous audience felt is the fundamental narrative, thematic, and aesthetic features of the original text. An idea like complete fidelity can be problematic because the medium of telling the story has been switched from one form of text to another, film. Which means there will be automatic differences in the way the story is told or shown and perceived. This brings up the point that film is a multitrack medium, meaning you can play not only with words, but also with performance, music, sound effects, and moving photographic images. This explains the implausibility of complete fidelity and a good reason for the undesirability for literal fidelity. There are things that are told in a book and even explained, but that can be very different than actually seeing that event or thing in a film. This is why the idea of fidelity can be tricky. The movie should remain faithful to the source material to some extent, but it should also leave room for interpretation and what fits with the medium of presentation.