2 Stars – Shallow
Christian analogies are often expressed in science fiction films, so it was exciting to see that Disney was making Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 classic A Wrinkle in Time. Having read her book over four decades ago, the Christian message of the power of love to stop evil not only rang true to our faith but also to the genre. However, in this film version the Christian worldview is not only missing but replaced and the science fiction is amateurish.
Based on the adapted screenplay by Jennifer Lee (Frozen and Wreck it Ralph) and Jeff Stockwell the story which L’Engle wrote to express her faith in the Triune God is no longer present and instead a mystical trinity of three women are left without their original gratitude to God who gave them both their voice and their powers. Only the names remain: Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling).
The central character in this first chapter of the trilogy is Meg (Storm Reid), the older sister of the “greatest brain in the universe” Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Also joining them on their adventure due to his being enamored with Meg is Calvin (Levi Miller). It is love as both the greatest moral and physical power that makes their journey possible.
The science fiction is based on the brilliant computations of Meg and Charles Wallace’s parents, Mr. Murray (Chris Pine) and Mrs. Murray (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). A strength in the film is making this family biracial and therefore the heroes, Meg and Charles Wallace, are of mixed race. The Murrays are physicists who believe that time and space can be wrinkled if the right frequency can be found. Ridiculed by the scientific world that a “tesseract” can be used in such a manner, Mr. Murray recklessly enters his own experiment and leaves his family.
The film advances four years as Meg and Charles Wallace have each navigated the loss of their father in two opposite ways. Meg has grown sullen and Charles Wallace has grown curious. His curiosity opens him to the possibility that his father can be rescued. Thus the adventure begins.
We won’t spoil the tale for those who are not yet familiar with the story, but we would encourage everyone to read the book if you want to experience the true story as L’Engle intended it. The complete removal of Jesus is intentional, as seen when the three “Mrss” place Meg among the greatest people who ever lived and list such people as Oscar Shindler but not Jesus. It is also seen in the weakened meaning of love. Rather than depicting it as the divine love that permeates the universe as light, it is lessened only to that of familial love, a wonderful love to be sure, but far less than God’s love. The reference to light is made throughout as the darkness attempts to extinguish it, but nothing is explained that the source of light is from God who said, “Let there be light.”
Sadly, a deep book has become a shallow film.
- Director Ava DuVernay known for such films as Selma, explained here that she purposefully removed the Christian message. What do you think such a decision did to the story? What would you have done and why?
- The power of love is often expressed in music and the arts as the answer to our world’s sorrows. And yet the love described is often limited in form to those loves that are only of human origin: romantic love, brotherly love, familial love. Yet this same art and music observes that such loves are limited. God’s love as expressed in Jesus Christ has the power over evil and death. Why do you think films like this one often misunderstand the uniqueness of God’s love and transforming power?