March 28, 2018

How Story Shapes Culture: A Wrinkle in Time

Written by Nadia Daniels-Moehle1

Image credit: Sonja Daniels-Moehle

We are shaped by culture and we shape culture. There are so many great thinkers and creators that have influenced humanity, we come back to their work over and over, and each time we experience it a little differently. Good books are like this, and movies too. Perhaps because of this I’ve always been wary of film adaptations of favorite books, I grow convinced that my interpretation of an author’s work is the work, but that is just not the case.

I remember distinctly the moment when I heard that Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was being made into a movie, I immediately went into "protective book lover mode" a combination of intense hope with an acrid undertone of dread. Then I saw the trailer of Ava DuVernay’s adaptation, I was hopeful to see the racially diverse cast, but could the magical Disney imagery quell my "dark and stormy"2 expectations? Sha Xin Wei director of the Synthesis Center at Arizona State University said,
“When the problems exceed our current scientific solutions, the only way we can have palpable impact is through imagination. Sometimes good science requires magic.”3

On the weekend of March 9-11, 2018 A Wrinkle in Time created necessary magic for our times. Ava DuVernay’s direction took the film to the second highest place at the box office second only to Black Panther, the first time in history that two black directors claimed this prize. Which makes me realize that even if the movie isn’t like the story in my mind, this narrative, the story, is positively shaping our culture. Madeleine’s and Meg’s stories are impacting another generation, thanks especially to Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time. 

A Wrinkle in Time shapes our universes with stories we all need to remember, in the words of Madeleine herself in an interview with PBS from 2000
 "Meg finally realizes that love is stronger than hate. Hate may seem to win for a while, but love is stronger than hate.” 

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1. In collaboration with Sonja Daniels-Moehle and Amy Daniels-Moehle
2. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle, first line "It was a dark and stormy night."
3. The New Education, Cathy N. DavidsonSha Xin Wei quote p.p. 147