Thank you to Disney Studios for hosting me during the A Wrinkle In Time Event.
Screenwriter Jennifer Lee spent four years adapting A Wrinkle In Time for the big screen. From the beginning, she told her bosses at Disney that she didn’t want to recreate the book. “If we try to be the book we’ll fail.” Instead, she approached the book as inspiration, with a plan to follow the basics of the journey in her screenplay.
Director Ava DuVernay viewed the film in a similar way. When she would ask people about their favorite secondary characters or their favorite planets, adults who loved the book as children didn’t have an answer. “They didn’t know the specifics. They just know the way the book made them feel.” So DuVernay went to work, hoping to create a movie that would make people feel the same way when they left the theater as they felt when they finished the book. What will happen to those who just want to see their favorite book on the screen? “I think there are some people that just ride with it being different, and some people that are real sticklers,” says DuVernay. Go in expecting changes to the appearances of the characters, changes to the dialogue and some changes in the plot and you’re less likely to leave the theater disappointed.
One of the changes? Murry twins Sandy and Dennys don’t appear in the film. “We didn’t have time for those twins,” jokes DuVernay.
While the twins were removed, the character of Veronica Kiley was added. She was based on an amalgam of DuVernay and Lee’s biggest bullies as children. She was included in the story to show “the bully has wounds as well,” according to Lee.
Many fans of the book have expressed disappointment that Aunt Beast was left out of the film. It turns out they actually wrote and shot a scene with Aunt Beast that was removed in the final edit. “Meg had to face the greatest darkness of all,” says Lee. The scene created an emotional shift when Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace tessered to Ixchel. “You didn’t feel the same way going in.” In the end, it was decided that removing the scene was more true to the journey. A very brief nod to Ixchel remains in the film. As for the scene that was cut? “Maybe it’ll be on the DVD,” Lee hopes.
In addition to changing the appearances of the Mrs, Mrs. Who was given new and sometimes modern quotes in the film. Lee and DuVernay allowed themselves to draw from any period in history, which resulted in quotes from OutKast, Chris Tucker and Lin-Manuel Miranda along with more traditional quotes from Shakespeare and Rumi.
There were also smaller changes that were made in the transition from page to screen. Rather than seeing Dr. Kate Murry cook over a bunsen burner, we see her eating dinner as she makes notes in a book. “This is a woman who’s a mathematician. And a biophysicist. She doesn’t work with a bunsen burner, she works with complex equations,” says Lee.
In the end, both Lee and DuVernay hoped to capture the emotion of A Wrinkle In Time over attempting to recreate the story. “The most important thing was really being true to the emotional journey,” according to Lee. “If we tried to be the book, I think we’d let people down in that way… I just wanted this to feel like A Wrinkle In Time.” DuVernay agrees. “Some things are in there. Some things are not. But hopefully it makes them feel the same.”
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From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.
Meg Murry is a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who just wants to fit in. The daughter of two world-renowned physicists, she is intelligent and uniquely gifted, as is Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace, but she has yet to realize it for herself. Complicating matters is the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Murry, which has left Meg devastated and her mother broken-hearted. Charles Wallace introduces Meg and her fellow classmate Calvin to three celestial beings (Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who) who have journeyed to Earth to help search for their father, and together they embark on their formidable quest. Travelling via a wrinkling of time and space known as tessering, they are transported to worlds beyond their imagination where they must confront a powerful evil force. To make it back home to Earth, Meg must face the darkness within herself in order to harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness rapidly enveloping the Universe.
Directed by Oscar® nominee Ava DuVernay from a screenplay by Oscar winner Jennifer Lee based upon the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time” stars: two-time Academy Award® nominee Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, Emmy® nominee Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Mrs. Murry, Michael Peňa as Red and introducing Storm Reid as Meg Murry, with two-time Emmy winner Zach Galifianakis as The Happy Medium and Emmy nominee Chris Pine as Mr. Murry.
Produced by Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand with Doug Merrifield serving as executive producer, the film also boasts an impressive creative team featuring some of the most talented and skilled craft persons working today, including: Tobias Schliessler, ASC as director of photography, Naomi Shohan as production designer, Oscar®-nominee Spencer Averick as film editor and two-time Academy Award®-nominee Paco Delgado as costume designer.