Presenter Information

Eric Lihammar, University of Wyoming

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Caskey Russell

Description

Where is place for wildness in our world? In Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, first published in 1963, the character Max creates a space in the confines of his bedroom where being wild is not shunned but celebrated. In 2009 director Spike Jonze produced a film production of the book. The purpose of this study is to examine the thematic and visual adaptations involved in converting a story from one medium to another. With the original children’s tale offering 10 total sentences over 37 pages, this was no easy task. The original themes of the book: wildness, anarchy, the responsibilities of a king, a child’s land of escape - have been turned inside out. Spike Jonze produces a more adult, complicated vision, one that offers no easy answers to these issues and instead asks more questions. Control and accountability have surfaced as the thematic forefront of this children’s story. The land of wild things is no longer a location that Max can dominate and leave at his leisure. Instead it is a place which he can barely contain; a land where his human characteristics ultimately come to mark him as, unlike the book, not the wildest thing of all.

Comments

Oral Presentation, UW Honors Program

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Creativity in Adaption: Where the Wild Things Are

Where is place for wildness in our world? In Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, first published in 1963, the character Max creates a space in the confines of his bedroom where being wild is not shunned but celebrated. In 2009 director Spike Jonze produced a film production of the book. The purpose of this study is to examine the thematic and visual adaptations involved in converting a story from one medium to another. With the original children’s tale offering 10 total sentences over 37 pages, this was no easy task. The original themes of the book: wildness, anarchy, the responsibilities of a king, a child’s land of escape - have been turned inside out. Spike Jonze produces a more adult, complicated vision, one that offers no easy answers to these issues and instead asks more questions. Control and accountability have surfaced as the thematic forefront of this children’s story. The land of wild things is no longer a location that Max can dominate and leave at his leisure. Instead it is a place which he can barely contain; a land where his human characteristics ultimately come to mark him as, unlike the book, not the wildest thing of all.