'Frozen' Director Jennifer Lee Will Adapt Another Feminist-Friendly Tale, 'A Wrinkle in Time'
I've said it before and I will say it again. Frozen is slaying the world. If it's not breaking every record it's possible for an animated film to break, then it's helping to usher in a new era in which no one anywhere ever can say that female-led films don't do well at the box office. Sure, Hollywood might be slow to actually produce more of them (really? we have to wait until 2017 for a female superhero movie?) but just dispelling that gross sexist stereotype is a huge step. Now Frozen is bringing us something else to celebrate: a beloved childhood classic. The director of Frozen is adapting A Wrinkle in Time into a movie and this might very well be the first time that we can trust in our hearts that a book-to-film adaptation is going to be good.
A Wrinkle in Time is a children's science fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle about mischievous Meg Murry, her younger genius brother Charles Wallace, who sometimes reads her mind, and the journey they go on when their father mysteriously disappears while experimenting with time travel. Together with Charles Wallace and her new friend Calvin O'Keefe, Meg travels through time and space to find her father and bring him home. It's also notable for actually starting with the cliché opener it was a dark and stormy night and for being on the summer reading list for many a middle schooler.
The book may have come out long before Frozen did, but now it's not hard to look back and see exactly why Jennifer Lee, who co-wrote and directed Frozen, would be interested writing a film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. The two works have three important things in common despite one being a Disney movie and the other being the most science fictiony fantasy you will ever read.
It's about family first.
The heroes of A Wrinkle in Time are siblings Meg Murry and Charles Wallace Murry. Unlike Elsa and Anna, Meg and Charles Wallace have other siblings — i.e. their 10 year old twin brothers Sandy and Dennys Murry — but like Anna and Elsa the two of them have been close since they were younger. Much like Anna leaving Arendelle in Hans' hands to trek up the North Mountain, the reason that Meg and Charles Wallace leave home is to find their father and bring him back home. And exactly like in Frozen, the happy ending of A Wrinkle in Time is having a family reunited.
There's also a dash of romance.
Of course, A Wrinkle in Time is a middle grade novel not an elementary school novel so there's a hint of romance intertwined in the plot. From the moment Meg and Calvin O'Keefe properly meet — her being unpopular and him being the big man on campus who nonetheless feels like he doesn't fit in — there's a spark between them. Eventually, it blossoms into love or as much love as you can have for a person outside of your family when you're 13 years old and 14 years old respectively.
The secret twist is not that kind of love.
Just when all hope seems lost and the situation is most dire, A Wrinkle in Time uses a similar twist to Frozen. Where the act that saved Anna from freezing to death and gave Elsa control over her powers was revealed to be true (familial) love, so too is Meg Murry able to save the day and defeat the evil telepathic brain IT with her love for her brother. Meg realizes that love is something she has that IT doesn't and focuses all of it on Charles Wallace, who is trapped in IT's telepathic snare, managing to save him and get them both home.
If there's anyone who understands the theme of A Wrinkle in Time better than most in Hollywood, it's the director of a movie like Frozen.