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WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Inside All Of Us Is A Wild Thing
"I didn't set out to make a children's movie; I set out to make a movie about childhood,” says director Spike Jonze, whose big-screen adaptation of the captivating Maurice Sendak classic Where the Wild Things Are was truly a labor of love. In it, he further explores the themes Sendak introduced and which Jonze believes remain relevant to every generation. "It's about what it's like to be eight or nine years old and trying to figure out the world, the people around you, and emotions that are sometimes unpredictable or confusing—which is really the challenge of negotiating relationships all your life,” he says. "It's no different at that age.”

"Where the Wild Things Are” offers a fresh look—and for many of us, a look back—into the many facets of childhood. It invites audiences of all ages to join in the discovery and challenge and pure feral joy of a young boy's brave journey to the island of the Wild Things, a special place that's sure to stir thoughts of the wild things that live in all of us.

"In a way, it's an action movie starring a nine-year-old. There's a lot of physical mayhem like dirt clod fights and rampaging in the forest,” says Jonze. Indeed, the island offers up every youngster's fantasy: the freedom to run and jump and howl, to build and destroy and wrestle and throw things as far as he can… most of all, to do only the things he wants to do, with no one saying he can't. Resplendent in his wolf costume, young Max soon becomes King of the Wild Things by proving his superior ferocity over the giant creatures who live there. But it's an uneasy reign because the Wild Things are just that— wild—and there is always the possibility they might decide to eat him after all, with their great sharp teeth. Being king just might not be as easy as Max imagined.

At the same time, the story follows Max's first steps toward growing up as he becomes aware of the complex relationships the individual Wild Things have with each other and with him, and how doing everything he wants isn't always the best choice. Told with unabashed honesty from a child's point of view, "Where the Wild Things Are” reveals Max's increasing understanding of his own feelings and the feelings of others. The film began with Jonze's abiding affection and respect for the book, written and illustrated by Sendak, another strong believer in not talking down to young people.

Published in 1963, it earned a Caldecott Medal and went on to touch millions of readers worldwide, perpetually ranked by Publishers Weekly as one of the 10 all-time best-selling books for children since the 1970s.

Its enduring appeal, notes Jonze, is in how it "taps into genuine feelings that kids have and takes them seriously without pandering. Kids are given so much material that's not honest, so when they find a story like this it really gets their attention. I remember myself, at that age, being so eager to hear that other kids were going through the same things I was and having similar thoughts.”

Max Records, now twelve, made his film debut as Max in "Where the Wild Things Are” and agrees. "The book reflects what it's actually like to be a kid. It's a book that could not only be respected by kids but it really gets to the heart of everything you feel growing up and even beyond that.”

It was that idea of "beyond” that led Jonze to realize what he could contribute to the story. Adapting the slim volume into a feature film gave him the opportunity to take the adventure further, to delve deeper into Max's world, the unknown terrain of the island and the impetus that brings him there. He could examine more fully the Wild Things themselves, those volatile and endlessly expressive creatures which are "the wild emotions inside of Max and inside all of us.”

From that point, the possibilities were limitless.

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