Children's classic 'Wild Things' arrives on big screen


The long-awaited movie of the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" finally arrives in cinemas this week after a three-year journey every bit as arduous as the imaginary voyage of its hero.

Author Maurice Sendak's beautifully illustrated classic -- about a mischievous boy called Max who sails away to an enchanted kingdom populated by monsters -- has delighted millions since its publication in 1963.

Yet the jury is out on whether director Spike Jonze's adaptation will weave a similar spell at the box office when it arrives in North American cinemas on October 16, three years after cameras first started rolling.

The film, shot on location in Australia in 2006, reportedly first ran into problems a year later when Jonze showed a rough cut to Warner Bros studio, where executives were reportedly alarmed by the tone and mood of the film.

In 2008, movie blogs buzzed that the film -- which reportedly cost 80 million dollars to make -- might be shelved altogether after its release was delayed twice, before a 2009 release date was eventually fixed.

Speaking to reporters at a press day in Los Angeles, Jonze, the quirky director behind offbeat hits "Adaptation" and "Being John Malkovich", admitted that the production process had been wearying. But the 39-year-old insisted that he had been given the final say over the film.

"In the end it wasn't always easy but I got to make the movie that I wanted to make," Jonze said. "The movie required a certain scale."

"I feel like in a way we got away with murder. We got to make this movie that's very personal and intimate yet on a scale that's very big and epic.

"So I feel like for all our difficulties that we had last year they (the studio) have really come around and embraced our movie."

Jonze was hand-picked to direct the project by Sendak, who insisted that the film-maker be given freedom to adapt his book as he saw fit.

Making a film tailored for children, however, was never going to be an option. "I would rather not have had a film than turn it into a kiddie movie," Sendak told Entertainment Weekly.

Jonze, meanwhile, says he set out with the intention to "make a movie about what it feels like to be nine years old.

"I think the idea was not to make a children's movie but a movie about childhood," he said. "'Wild Things' has feelings that you recognize as being true to childhood. I think kids respond to things that don't condescend to them, and Maurice's work doesn't condescend to them. And that's what Maurice told us is in this movie -- don't pander to children."

The central problem of the film -- how to make a two-hour feature from a book which consists of just nine sentences -- was tackled by Jonze and screenwriter Dave Eggers in a series of brainstorming sessions.

"Most kids in movies are 'de-fanged,'" Eggers says. "They have no wildness. What we figured out pretty quickly was that we all clearly remembered what it was like to be a boy, to be a little wild and get into trouble."

To bring the monsters to life, Jonze opted for a combination of live action, puppetry, and computer animation, which left Max -- played by newcomer Max Records -- romping amongst nine-foot-tall (2.7 meters) creatures.

Providing the voices to the monsters are an all-star cast which includes James Gandolfini, Oscar-winners Forest Whitaker and Chris Cooper as well as Lauren Ambrose and Catherine O'Hara.

The stellar cast acted out the scenes before cameras without costumes, before unknown actors later performed in the suits, and melded body language to the dialogue. The faces of the costumes were then digitally enhanced to reflect expressions and actions.

"I knew it was going to be a complicated process," says Jonze. "It seemed that every choice we made turned out to be the hardest possible way to do it."


Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little