Book vs. Movie: A Wrinkle in Time Falls Away from Narrative

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I previously reviewed A Wrinkle in Time and stated that I was excited to see what Disney could do with it in the film version, and I have to say: it was not the hit I was expecting. The book is full of Christian messages and narratives, being that the L’Engle herself said, “If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it. This is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death.” I’m not sure how she’d feel about the main premise of her beloved book being taken out and turned into a simple narrative of “evil” vs. “light.”

Storm Reid and Reese Witherspoon in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

Being that religion is a touchy subject in today’s modern era, taking it away from the film when it was the main focus in the book seems like Disney was playing it safe, but it leaves the movie with a confusing message and doesn’t explain why Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which are there. They give you the reasoning of being sent there by the universe… but why? At least when the biblical portion of the book explains this, it gives you the reason that God sent them and they act as his angels, bringing his message to Meg. In the film, they’re just there. They just appear, as if out of nowhere. It leaves you confused and unsure of why they’re even needed.

Storm Reid and Reese Witherspoon in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

In the book, as the main protagonist, Meg, close to battling “IT”, who is the evil one, is told that God has called her to his purpose by her father and the Mrs. W’s. And as she goes to face evil for the final time, Mrs. Who leaves her with a message from Corinthians, “God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.” In the film, this is basically dumbed down to “IT” simply being made up of jealously, anger and fear and instead of being fought off by angels, evil is fought by warriors of “good” and “light.” The antagonist is ill-explained and is not given the justice deserved, being that so much is built upon it in the book.

Under no obligation to bring the religious aspect into the film, it falls short when it comes to having a clear and concise plot. It was all over the place, unsure of where to go next and how to get there. The characters’ dramatic scenes come off a little cheesy at times, but if you can take anything away from this movie, take the simplest plot point from both the book and film – love is the greatest tool and really can be best the weapon.

Oprah Winfrey in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

The bright spot of this film undoubtedly and deservingly goes to Storm Reid, who plays Meg. She shines on screen and is the most compelling part of the entire film. Her scenes with Chris Pine, who plays Meg’s father, makes up for everything amiss in the film. The costumes and visibly compelling scenes do awaken the parts you can imagine out of the book, and they did a beautiful job bringing it to life.

Chris Pine in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

A Wrinkle in Time is not a film I’d recommend going to see if you haven’t read the book. With so many scenes being cut short and unexplained, you may feel lost and frustrated as you continue on. If you still want to give it a shot, I implore you to read the book first and get an idea of what you’re about to watch. If you’re not a reader, keep your expectations low and enjoy the mostly female cast, who together, are a strong group. They just didn’t get the film they deserved.

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About the author

Whitney

I have been visiting Walt Disney World annually since I was 7 years old and haven't mentally left it since. Living in Arkansas, but dreaming of Orlando. You can find me at [email protected] and @whitydarling on any social media channel.

14 Comments

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  • The book is overrated. The religious aspect is trite and pedantic. The movie is far worse as it’s obviously just a vain and vapid attempt at forced diversity, ( and I’m a liberal who would like to see a more diverse Hollywood. Just not when it’s shoe horned where it doesnt belong) by way of marginally talented actors with inflated self importance and a plastic surgery bill to pay for.

  • Well considering Oprah is attached to it, no shocker that God or religion would be washed out of it.

  • Hello Whitney.
    Given the specific “religious / believers” background you explain to be the essence of the book, I believe I would not be interested in reading the book as such…
    Then for me, probably everything ends here. (Both book & film)
    Thanks a lot for the review.

    (There are tens of THOUSANDS of non religious books out there in the world, with interesting humanitarian visions in the background, that don’t fall back on the extreme limited set of dogmatic religious books that are “still” out there in the world…)

  • Disney did so well with the Narnia movies and kept all the Christian premise that was intended in the books. They were a huge hit for the company. They missed the boat completely here by trying to be PC while alienating the huge market share that would have made this a hit if kept true to the book.

    • That’s a good point and one I didn’t think of. The first two Narnia were a huge success and some of my favorites. I would’ve enjoyed more had they followed closer to those.

  • Hi Whitney, I appreciate your review of A Wrinkle In Time. I must disagree with your final paragraph, especially that you should avoid the movie if you haven’t read the book. As someone who never read the book, I was not left asking the same questions you did. I easily accepted that the three Mrs. where sent by the universe as some higher mystical power, similar to a god. I did not miss the further details of the book that you did. I thought the movie conveyed a strong positive message without the need for any kind of religious entanglement. From my point of view, kudos to Disney for making an inclusive movie that people of all backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities could enjoy and walk away from feeling that there is hope in the world.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it! That’s really all that matters; is how each viewer sees it and interprets it on their own.

  • I usually think seeing the movie before reading the book is better, because then you can enjoy both (without getting mad about what’s left out of the movie). Glad to hear the book is better and has more to it, because I wasn’t that impressed with the movie. The kiddo liked it more than I did, and now I’ve bought her the book (never heard of it before last year) and she’ll no doubt enjoy it.

  • Thanks for a very helpful review. I did not really want to see the movie because of Oprah, but I was torn because I had heard good things about the book. It sounds like Disney missed some opportunities here.

  • Life, much like this film, ultimately lose context when humanity attempts to wrestle God out of that which He created. It just never fails and never will make coherence.

  • I can’t imagine anyone doing this book justice on film. I’m not a huge fan of the book, but tastes differ. But if you read the book, nothing on screen could match the world the reader puts together in their own head.
    The movie should have been a straight to disney channel production. It is just good enough to watch on tv. There are some great performances in it, but it is just meh.

  • Hi thanks for a little explanation on the book. It was a visually stunning movie but it lacked some context for some of the plot. A few more scenes might have helped. My kids still loved it, but were confused nonetheless. The religious aspect might have made it clearer.

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