Where the Wild Things are
When problems become too big, Max flees into a fantasy land, but it’s not easy to create happiness there either. This film has great depth, and gives excellent insight into a child’s psychology. It requires maturity to benefit from this story, and therefore the film is best suited for young people and adults.
Max is a loner with a big imagination who mostly plays alone, as he has no close friends. His big sister has her own friends and his mother is struggling to support her two children. Therefore, Max has no one who can give him the attention he needs, leading to his frequent flamboyant acts of frustration. One evening, when his mother has a male visitor, Max puts on a wolf suit and refuses to behave properly. His mother sends him to bed, but the whole situation escalates, and ends up with Max biting his mother before fleeing out of the house.
To cope with the difficult situation, Max travels to the land of the Wild Things. It is a desolate country with large forests and great deserts. Max soon stumbles upon some monster, bear-like creatures. To begin with, they want to eat Max, but after Max tells a fanciful story describing himself as a King with special abilities, he is crowned King by the Wild Things too.
Max enjoys the company of the wild creatures, and soon becomes good friends with Carol, who takes Max on a guided tour of his new kingdom. The two think that it would be great if there was a place where only what you wanted to happen, would happen. Max decides to build a fort of stones and sticks that could be such a place, and he gets all the Wild Things to help.
But soon problems arise. Tension grows between Max and the Wild Things, especially after some of them say that Max is not a very good King. Max changes his mind frequently about what he wants and who he will support. The fort is never finished, and finally Carol too becomes angry at Max. It all peaks when the Wild Things realise that Max doesn’t have any special abilities. From this point on, the question is whether or not Max can make peace with the Wild Things, and thus resolve the conflict within him before he goes back to the real world.
Quality and Theme
"Where the Wild Things are" is a film based on an illustrated children's book by Maurice Sendak. Despite the fact that the book only contains ten sentences, it is regarded as a masterpiece of American children's literature. The film adaptation of the book must be regarded as successful, but this is really not a film for children. Director Spike Jonze has chosen to film several of the scenes with a very restless camera which is both modern and fresh. However, filming in this way is not common in children's films, and can be more distracting than enriching for a young audience. Several of the scenes are gloomy and dramatic, and are unsuitable for children younger than 8 years of age.
The underlying message in this film is interesting and rich, and is best suited for young people and adults. Max takes refuge in fantasy when reality becomes too overwhelming, and all the characters he meets and the situations he ends up in are in various ways expressing the conflict within the protagonist. Throughout the story, Max learns that it is not possible to build a place where he can control everything that happens. He also understands that he is an ordinary boy who cannot resolve his own problems, nor those in his mother’s and his sister's life.
Towards the end of the film, Max realises why he behaves the way he does. It is fear and powerlessness that makes him act up. He also understands that his behaviour only makes the situation worse for his mother and sister. He loves both of them very much, and when he gets back to reality he is a more mature and wise boy.
Children from 8 years and above can safely view this film, however, teenagers, and beyond, will be able to grasp the point of the film quicker and with a greater level of understanding.
"Where the Wild Things Are" is a good and insightful film for young people and adults who want a deeper understanding of a child’s psychology and mindset. To this purpose, the film is excellent for teaching. Children and families who are expecting a regular adventure film may be surprised at this film’s content.
Director: Spike Jonze Genre: Drama, Adventure Actors: Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini and more Nationality: USA Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures Length: 1h 41min Production Year: 2009 Age Limit: PG Suitability: Young people/adults BBFC’s Consumer Advice: Contains mild threats and brief violence.
Our Assessment: Recommended