Saturday, 28 August 2010

We were going to make a whole world like this

It's interesting that they chose to film Where the Wild Things Are with people instead of pixels. It would have worked fine as an animated film, but instead they chose to dress people up in huge costumes and make them bound around in the woods. It creates an immediately distinctive style. There's a real physicality to it, and a reality that makes it seem even more fantastical. The creatures look out of proportion and dangerous, a bit cuddly and a bit scary. There's a lot of them and they usually feel too big for the screen, making most scenes crowded and loud. It's wild and confusing and sometimes disorientating. In the middle of such a beautifully shot countryside these big shaggy monsters smash everything up and steal all the focus. It's a different, much more striking effect, to the now-conventional computer animation. And if these brilliant creations rest uneasily on the screen, their general attitude doesn't help. Max, a slightly annoying little boy, runs away from home and meets the 'wild things' in some fantasy land of his own making. But they don't really have exciting adventures. They all seem a bit depressed. As representations of Max's own life, they argue and bicker and have violent mood swings. Occasionally they cheer up, but within minutes they're back to their glum pondering. They want Max to 'keep out all the sadness', which turns out to be quite difficult. This mood, along with the strange visual style, sets the whole thing off balance in an endearing way.

The main issue with it, as a film, is that the plot is difficult to grab on to. There's no strong driving force behind any of it. They just play and argue. It moves along without much of a purpose, it just shows you a world. This is exactly the thing that will attract some people to it. It's unconventional. It can wash over you without needing to make sense, or it can be analysed and poked until everything falls into place. But without repeated viewings, or really thinking hard about it, Where the Wild Things Are is alien.

1 comment:

  1. Fantasy as dystopia. I felt a certain resentment, it seems to me childhood should be a place to rejoice in self-assertion, not a place to discover the quotidian nature of EVERYTHING. The chocolate cake at the end put me off too , almost sordid. Emotionally chilly, for sure.