Thought a lot last night, this morning, and today about Where The Wild Things Are and the shape of a story. Funny how the panelist last night planted the seed in our minds that our feelings for the movie would evolve over time, after a night of dreams, and then I had a night full of dreams, which I have not had in awhile, and the dreams were about loss and searching and gifts and games and make believe and rules and some feelings in there, too, which I have yet to fully identify, and even some music. And my kids woke up thinking about the movie, too, and we talked about it briefly before they left for school, and I talked with the carpool group about it, and one teen, who works in a movie store, had seen it, two others had wished to, knew something about it. My son, though, was tired of talking about it, so we stopped, and then the thoughts were just in my mind, all through the carpool, nearly two hours of quiet in a car full of kids listening to ipods, then by myself, only WUMB to prod my thoughts, and the scenery.

Lots of things bubbled up, from the movie itself, from the conversations with the kids, from the panelists and the audience in the talk after the movie, from my own reactions, from my life. The piece I kept thinking about was about the stuff that was new in this version, and I hate to divulge secrets, but there is a background story in the movie that was not in the book, and there is a lot that happens with the wild things in the wild rumpus that is spelled out in a lot more detail than in the book, it is a full length movie based on a forty page picture book after all, and some in the audience loved that back story and added story line and others hated it, others found it puzzling, a challenge. I fall in the loved it, puzzling, challenging camp. The story resonated with my own and with that of my kids. I found myself in tears, on the edge of my seat, captivated emotionally. As one audience member said, it was a more psychological drama than the book in many ways. Others thought the back story took away from the universality of the book, that is took away from the innerness of the book’s story, that the film was a bad fit with the book. Maybe so, but I liked the back story and the detail. It reminded me of working with children and families. You know things about their lives, and you watch them every day at play and you wonder how those two pieces interact, how does the stuff in their lives come alive in their play, how does their fantasy shape their lives, how do the other characters/children/adults in the group or in their lives affect their internal development? All these things were the questions I asked, though not at all formally, as I watched the movie. It was full of echoes, questions, behaviors and emotions to observe, interactions, intensity, a lot like children’s lives in a family or in a group.

Which made me think a lot about this writing, about my attempt to put a story to my life, to bring a fantasy alive, the interchange of the two for each individual, and the ability of some, like the makers of Where the Wild Things are, Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of the book and a participant in the making of the movie, Dave Eggers, some apparently well known person who made the movie, and others whose names I don’t know but could look up if I were to google the movie, how did those folks bring their stories to the movie was another theme that kept coming from the audience, did their versions come together, clash, who had the right to tell the story, whose story was it to tell, can the movie maker change the idea of the book author and make great art? So many questions like these adults ask in a group of Harvard Alumns and yet they are so similar to the questions our children ask each day as they play together, the whole process of creating fantasy play alone or in a group is so similar to so many adult occupations and to the creation of real life dreams and of the way adults shape our world, that I find it amazing some days that people like Piaget can tell us about stages of devolopment and almost leave out adults. Do adults not employ the same ways of being in the world which are employed by the youngest children? Do we not use language to understand ourselves, our world, and each other? Do we not touch, feel, smell, listen, and look to make sense of our world? Do we not dream, invent, play, imagine, talk, negotiate to make almost anything happen in our lives? Even having breakfast requires a dream. First, as an adult, a person has to imagine the possibilities, then to decide on which of the many fantasies to follow, then construct the breakfast, then follow through and eat, savor if possible, live off that breakfast, fantasy turned reality, story told and followed shaping life, on nearly every level I can imagine, but for some reason lately, the construction of drama is what fascinates me, the creating of a peom, or a story, true or made up, the performing of a play or the making of a movie, a dance, even a painting or a sculpture or a song, all dreams come out of the imaginations of people, built on the imaginations of those before and around and of the world, turned real, turned out, shared, partaken of by many if the dream holds true and others can accept it as valid, inspiring, compelling, puzzling, worthy of attention. Amazing, amazing, amazing, all through time, into eternity, if we can dream ourselves that far into the future.