Illustration by Rupert Bottenberg

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Where the Wild Things Are, by Spike Jonze (Hour Magazine, cover)

Wild and wooly

Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are will help you regress

I’ve always thought it was significant that Maurice Sendak called his book Where the Wild Things Are, and not What the Wild Things Do. In a world where the emphasis, even for kids, is so often on human striving and achieving, this grammatical precision is both syntactical and philosophical: When Max goes off into the forest, it is an invitation to play in the deepest sense. Be where the wild things are. Be a wild thing yourself. Be a kid. Just be.

Spike Jonze’s long-in-the-works cinematic adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are has a similar phenomenology. So much money is invested into everything related to “Big Film” in these lean times that a pseudo-science has been built up around everything that movies might be able to do for the gigantic industry that makes them, invests in them and watches them. What kind of box-office can this movie “do”? What will it “do” for the audience? How will it “do” in awards season?

Jonze, however, has made a film that simply is – and in that way, is also an exhortation to us to lay aside all the systems we employ to judge and observe and frame and situate and think about works of art, and to let ourselves travel fully, as Max does, across the wild sea on a tiny sailboat to a place that exists utterly in and of and for itself. Read article