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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 8, 2009 at 9:07 AM

Spike Jonze and “Where the Wild Things Are”

If you missed it in the Sunday magazine, the New York Times this week has a fascinating, lengthy feature about Spike Jonze and the long, troubled saga of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Jones has been working on the film, an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic (mostly a picture book, with just ten sentences of story), for more than six years. Shooting began more than three years ago, but it quickly became evident that Jonze’s vision for the movie did not match that of its studio. It’s a fascinating saga of what can happen when imagination costs a lot of money, and people in suits get nervous about getting that money back.
Here’s an excerpt, about what inspired Jonze to take on the project in the first place (he’d been initially resistant):

Then one night in 2003, Jonze opened the [“Where the Wild Things Are”] book again. He had been going through a difficult time. After more than a decade together, he and Sofia Coppola were splitting up. He found himself contemplating the wild things anew. “What would they look like?” he wondered. “What would they talk like?” He decided they should talk like people, not like monsters. They were “complex emotional beings,” he told me, with wild emotions roiling inside them. Then he began to think of the wild things as actually being wild emotions, embodying all the intense things children — and grown-ups — sometimes feel. “I felt that I could write infinitely about that, because that’s so much of what we are,” he told me. Excited, Jonze scribbled down some notes and called Sendak. At some point during what he described to me as “10 minutes of rambling,” he managed to get across the essential piece of information: he wanted to do the movie.

Read the whole story here. “Where the Wild Things” arrives in theaters Oct. 16.

(Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

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