Random thoughts from Catherine & Sean Gaffney
Wild Things too dark? Who says? Seriously.First off, can we accept that the book is a wonderful children's tale and stop treating it like it is some kind of Jungian masterpiece. It's a story about a hyper young lad who gets to go wild with some monsters and then realizes sometimes you just want to enjoy the creature comforts of home.Why Jones decided to make it a lesson in post-divorce relationships is anyone's guess. It's an okay film, but even Sendak can't convince me that it's what the book was about all along.I really don't think this is a kids film anyway. It's a film for adults that happens to be based on a kids book.I mean you have a movie filled with monsters who, apart from some sporadic fits of action, stand around and mope about their feelings (the motivation for which never is explained). Hmmm, that's a film little boys are dying to see.I obviously feel it was a bait and switch and that's colouring my appreciation of the flick. Maybe I'll be more impressed after a second viewing on DVD some day.
Oh, as for the heart of the article's argument...Snow White is about a witch trying to kill...KILL...Snow White. What kid didn't have nightmares after seeing the witch turn into the ugly hag?How about Bambi? Bambi's mom gets killed! Then there's a forest fire that threatens to burn them all alive.Many of Disney's older films were based on Grimm fairy tales, kinda dark source material, no?Lion King has its shmaltzy moments, but we have Simba witnessing his father's death and he's being set up for his own assassination by his uncle. Real light fare there, eh?The article positions Disney as Fluff Central. That's unfair given the broad range of Disney work. It's also unfair to the ranks of great writers and animators who put heart and soul into their work.Now if you replace Disney with Dreamworks...hmmm.
Walt was the first to say that if you are telling a children's story, the mother must die in the first reel -- so he gets a bad rap for much of what happened after he left, prior to them finding again their roots. I recently read a complaint about the softening of Mickey -- how the corporate symbol over time became bland and nice, losing his original prankster edge.So why did I link the article? Mostly because the attempts to "require" children's (and adult's, in many cases) stories to be toothless is valid. I just got a note on a drama for the church about G-d's vengeance; the note was to tone down the ending of the vid, because it was scary and not soothing for the congregation. Not sure that we want people to be soothed by the wrath of G-d. Jmt.
I hear ya, Sean. I've pitched serious kid stories that dealt with death, children's deaths, and have been told repeatedly -- no one wants to see kids die in a film. Not sure how My Girl ever got made.It took the movie Terra two years to find a distributor because of the heavier subject matter.The marketplace wants wise-cracking animals that can sell ancilliary merch.We spoonfeed our kids with G-Force, then throw them to the wolves when they graduate to Final Destination 5.And we wonder why our culture seems so superficial. Hmmm.
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