I have now spent what seems like 14 full days watching the Where The Wild Things Are trailer. It’s nourishment for me, sustenance, at this point. I feel that if I don’t watch it, dissect it, consume it, I will lose it, and that is a loss I am not prepared to handle.
There is a lot about culture, specifically pop culture, which is dispensable. Forgettable. Trivial. You watch it on a lark, or because it’s pretty, or the explosions, or the Rachel McAdams, and you don’t feel one way or the other, emotionally, about it. Sequels meant to provide you with that safe feeling of security; no brain power is needed, you have already rode this ride, you know the loops and the spins, you will be OK. And that is all fine, to a point.
The other side is culture that is vitally important to your life on a conscious and subconscious level. Stories that have affected the way you think, characters that define you, words you live by. Art is a visceral experience; an active viewer registers a chemical response to the thing being viewed. This chemistry is inherently fixed, as Malcolm Gladwell would tell you, and is affected by synapses in the brain that cannot be comprehended. In other words, you have no choice over the things you love and hate. Everything that makes you who you are, environment, experience, et al, affect your chemistry.
I’m going on at length about this, so that when I tell you the chemical reaction I am having to the WTWTA trailer is so potent my skin is literally heating up, you won’t think I’m speaking in hyperbole. I watch this trailer and I lose my shit. Lose it.
I do so because the combination of images and sounds is so beautiful. Because the care being put into this movie is so readily apparent. Because I have long desired to see the Wild Things come to life, and here they are, as real as in my dreams, and I can not seem to shake the feeling that my imagination, my wild imagination, was right on on this one thing, and that validation is more enriching than love, in this moment.
My Mom read me this story. I looked at the pages and she read the words. I was that boy. I was Max. I had feelings of anger and hope and ambivalence. I was confused by my parents’ behavior, by how different I felt from my friends and schoolmates. I longed to be part of a community where I was the focus, where I was set free to revel in my id. I wanted to ride in my sail boat to that faraway land. This was important to me. And it has stayed important to me, as all landmark art does.
When I point out the difference between trivial and transcendent pop culture, I do so to illustrate just how vital certain works are, and how important it is for them not to be mangled or disrespected. My Dad read me The Cat in the Hat, but as I had no real connection to it (I care about a cat coming to life and playing with paint?), seeing Mike Myers piss on Dr. Suess’ memory wasn’t such a travesty. The story just didn’t resonate with me on a physiological level. Where the Wild Things Are did.
Had the creatures been made to look fake or “funny” or childish, I would have been heartbroken. Had Max not been wearing his costume, had he not danced and ran and growled, had the Wild Things not roared their terrible roar, it would have crushed me. Because it would have taken away that memory I have of being a child, being told a story, and believing in my mind that this was real. That it was right. That it was OK.
And so I watch this trailer and become a child again. And my mind moves and whirls and my heart breaks and my soul dissolves into molecules. And I close my eyes and relief washes over me; this memory, this sacred thing, is safe. I am safe.
And then I lose my shit.
The best shadow since the Episode 1 teaser poster.
This is EXACTLY what a kid looks like when he confuses fear with anger. How human is this movie!
The ultimate. Just the ultimate.
The “E” is a Wild Things foot. Did you just die? Did you just die a beautiful death? I thought so.
Aaaaaaand I have lost control of my faculties.
Holy Jesus. They actually made the Wild Things legitimately frightening. Love it.
An inside peek into what a boy sees when he uses his imagination.
This is where I truly lost it. That Spike understood that the book, in its basest form, is a cry for help from a young boy, slays me. Max is acting out because he lost his father. The Wild Things ARE his Dad. When he plays with them, he is really playing with the Ghost of his abandoned Father. There just aren’t words for the astounding tragedy of that idea.
When was the last time you rolled down a hill? It’s been too long.
Are you five years old, curled up into a ball, eyes wide with the wonder of the world at your feet? Cause I am. And continue to be…