WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time, in theaters now.
Disney first adapted A Wrinkle in Time in 2003 with a made-for-TV movie starring the likes of Kate Nelligan, Alison Elliott and Alfre Woodard. Unfortunately, if was a massive misfire, with author Madeleine L’Engle even going on record to dismiss it as a poor rendition. So, when the entertainment giant re-acquired the rights to the children’s classic in 2010, fans hoped this new version would learn from its predecessor’s mistakes, especially given the studio spent a few years developing the feature before bringing in Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay.
As universally beloved as L’Engle’s 1962 science fantasy novel is, there’s simply no way all of its characters and story elements were to make the leap to the big screen without changes. Some of those alterations are minor, intended to trim superfluous aspects for the film’s streamlined 109-minute run time. Others are far more significant, leading us to run down the biggest differences differences between the novel and film.
The Opening Scene
One of the most noticeable differences between the film and its source material is the opening scene. While the 1962 novel starts with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” showcasing a shaken Meg Murry (Storm Reid) as she tries to ignore the terrible storm outside. The movie, however, begins with a scene between Meg and her father (Chris Pine), giving us an idea of the relationship they shared before his disappearance.
It’s a change that ultimately works, however, as it leads into a variation of the book’s opening. Rather than reacting to the storm outside, Meg finds herself unable to sleep in her attic bedroom because it’s the eve of the fourth anniversary of her father’s disappearance. Eager to calm her mind, Meg heads to the kitchen, where she’s greeted by a young Charles Wallace Murry.
There were many differences with the Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) presented on screen versus the Charles Wallace presented in the novel. The most noteworthy realization, of course, is that in the movie, it’s revealed he’s adopted. Another big change is the boy’s willingness to talk. The first chapter of A Wrinkle in Time states, “It was true that Charles Wallace seldom spoke when anybody was around, so that many people thought he’d never learned to talk.”
That doesn’t hold true in the film, where, from the get-go, Charles Wallace is personable and has no problem speaking to strangers — something Meg tells him to stop doing. That, however, proves to be another successful change, though, as it highlights his eagerness to trust and speak with Mrs. Whatsit, as the film never explains how the boy came to know her or Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which.
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