I loved Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, so I’ve compiled a list of some useful online resources about the film, book, and author (mostly for my own sake, so I can easily access them if and when I might get around to writing more about it). Just to summarize what I like most about the book and the film:
- Its existential realism: play, fun, mischief, friendship, love, loss, fear, loneliness, change, beginnings and endings… all there, in a kind of holistic mix that brings them all into reflective perspective.
- Its extended-family cameraderie/communalism: Max’s “wild things” are a social network of flawed but hearty characters, kinda like reality. And they like to pile on top of each other.
- Its valorizing of the imagination as a place to play (and work) things out, to figure out one’s emotions & responses to things, a place for practice (in the sense of preparing for reality, but also in the Buddhist sense of practice being everything).
- That they eat their kings (at least up until Max comes along). Kings need to know their place!
- Max’s performance is great.
- Finally, there’s the East European Jewishness of the characters (or call it their Italianness, their Slavicity, whatever) — I mean that quality of being emotionally and bodily there, present, expressive, close to the surface but resonant in the depths, which can be a troubling thing for those not used to it, but which can be lovely. In the film, this is in the the facial, bodily, and emotional expressivity of the acting (if animatronically enhanced puppet/costume/creatures can be said to act). There’s a soulfulness to these characters that stays with you long after Max leaves the island.
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