Months later, Viv and I finally got around to seeing the film adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are.” It certainly reduced the expedition of six or seven six or seven year old girls seated a row ahead of us to sodden, weeping mourners at the grave of childhood. This seems possibly to not be a desirable outcome for a children’s film, but I can make no special claim to information concerning aesthetic or market-segment objectives for the film.
On the whole, I was impressed with the film and enjoyed it very much. The monster visualizations are remarkable and the fidelity of their realization to the source material contributed mightily to the dreamlike feeling that pervaded the experience of viewing the work.
The particular element in the adaptation which struck me as brilliant, sensible, and possibly at odds with the original is the clear introduction of neoclassical themes into the work. It seems likely that the story as originally conceived by Mr. Sendak incorporated classical allusions, intended or not, and that he deliberately stripped them away as he refined the material, the better to serve the presumably not-yet-classically-knowledgeable audience for the book. Toddlers and first graders are unlikely to have a clear concept of the Minotaur or Elysium, but liberal-arts majors may reasonably be expected to understand the referents by the time they view the film.