Where the Wild Things Are
is ten sentences long, but they're some sentences. They – along with Maurice Sendak's magical illustrations, of course – are at once angry, heartwarming, troubling and reassuring. They get at something profound that kids feel, and that I still do from time to time, frankly: a desire to rage, to leave the world behind, backstopped by an even deeper need for home – a warm dinner – a hug.

These feelings aren't trivial, especially in kids. The authors who understood them best were Sendak and Roald Dahl. Dahl wrote for an older audience; he abhorred sentimentality, his wounds and his anger were usually laid pretty bare, and his stories weren't always appropriate for the single-digit-ers. But Sendak's Wild Things is a book that grows up with you. It's cathartic and comforting at any age. Those are, as I say, ten pretty remarkable sentences.

Then there are the pictures, which are strange enough to be subtly disquieting, but which have a warmth and softness that make it pretty clear everything's going to be okay. And I'm not talking just about the wild things themselves, which (deservingly) tend to get all the attention, but the fact, for example, that Max's idea of mischief is terrorizing his family's terrier with a fork while wearing a wolf costume. The previous page shows him wielding a hammer twice the size of his head to construct a blanket fort, off one edge of which we see he's suspended a pathetic-looking teddy bear from a clothes-hanger. Why? Who knows. But if you're going to be sent to your room, it should probably be for something fun.
categories Features, Cinematical