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LITTLE CHILDREN

Introduction by Todd Field
In 2001, after completing In The Bedroom, I began to pursue the film rights for Richard Yates' novel Revolutionary Road. However, this was not possible due to complications involving the estate. But what had attracted me to Yates' book was the central theme of his two main characters; Frank & April Wheeler. They are not prepared to let go of the dreams, and unfulfilled promise of their own youth, and to focus that kind of attention on their offspring; their identities based strictly on how they rank in relation to other people. They judge hard, and in the end it comes back on them.

In 2003 I read the galleys for Tom Perrotta's new novel Little Children. I was excited by its similarity to Revolutionary Road. However, where as Yates's story leaves you emotionally gutted– the writer being an angry, and unforgiving God, Little Children was a satirical-melodrama, and Perrotta was not so quick to judge his characters. He painted them with empathy & humor; the mainframe of the book being the idea of MOTHER, with the thread of matriarchy running through every relationship in the story.

In early 2004 I met with Tom to discuss the possibility of adapting the novel. There were things for the film I would want to change. Primarily, knowing for certain what the sex offender, Ronnie, had, or hadn't done, that led to his incarceration. He should represent an almost fairytale-like archetype from the Brother's Grimm: The troll under the bridge, or Beowulf's Grendel. Serving as an alibi, and distraction for the other characters– a receptacle to rationalize their own fear & desire without the burden of self-examination. The struggle for identity is what these characters battle from the start; it leads to a hunger they are unable to satiate– violence & fear hold sway. The shame of how they see themselves when the fingers start pointing. It was with this idea in mind, that Tom and I began our work together.

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