On Friday, Spike Jonze will give audiences his live action adaptation of the wonderful children’s book “Where The Wild Things Are.” Written by Maurice Sendak, the book won several awards but (more importantly) captured the love of children and adults; becoming a staple for bedtime reading. In it, a young boy named Max is wearing a wolf costume that any kid under the age of 10 would envy, causes mischief around the house. When he gets in trouble and is sent to bed without his dinner, Max’s imagination creates a world filled with wondrous creatures, and he is crowned the King of all Wild Things.
In the spirit of celebrating films that embrace imagination, we would like to remind you of other films where Wild Things took to the screen. Some of these things were to be loved, but some were always meant to be feared…
5. The Dark Crystal
In 1982, Jim Henson and company presented a make-believe world in a manner that only they could have pulled off. The approach they had made careers out of with their Muppet characters would be magnified to the next level with this tale of good versus evil. From top to bottom, The Dark Crystalshowed us a world that was darker and much deadlier than Oz. Absolutely bursting with creativity, here was an environment that was so unreal that the viewer didn’t even get the normal luxury of a human guide. In this scene, you not only get to see the baddies of the film (the gnarled Skesies), but you also get a taste of how every corner of the screen consisted of otherworldly designs.
It’s no coincidence that Jim Henson hits this list twice. A few years after The Dark Crystal he decided to create yet another new world. This time, however, he added characters made of flesh that would mix with those that were hand-made. Starring a young Jennifer Connelly and a strange bit of casting with David Bowie as The Goblin King; Labyrinth was a return to the fairy tale. Though this one has the most obviously “dated” feel to it out of the films on this list, it’s still a wonderful tale.
3. The NeverEnding Story
In this film, a boy named Bastian finds comfort from his troubled life in the pages of a book that is unlike any other book known. In it is a tale of a world being consumed by something called “The Nothing.” At one point, Bastian yells out loud because of what he’s just read, and is shocked when he then reads that the characters in the story have heard him. Filled with magical beasts, a child hero and the representation of every kid who has ever wished they could interact with the story they’re reading, The NeverEnding Story has become a classic of the fantasy world genre since it’s release in 1984, and we suspect it’s caused more than a few of our readers to wish they could fly on the back of a furry, dog-faced dragon. Admit it, tough guy!
2. Pan’s Labyrinth
Now here’s a tale of wild things for grown-ups. To give a bit of contrast with the other films on our list, we wanted to remind you that not all fairy tales play nice and not all flights of fantasy are a good thing. In fact, there should always be a reminder of how horribly terrifying a child’s nightmare can be. This nightmare is brought to the screen with absolute mastery by director Guillermo Del Toro and is very difficult not to label as a masterpiece. Pan’s Labyrinth is so similar to the above films in so many ways, yet in this film’s example of a young girl’s escapism, we’re shown that the demons a child may be fleeing from in their real life may just as easily take twisted form in the world they think they’re going to find refuge in…
1. The Wizard of Oz
Often imitated, but never duplicated, this incredible piece of celluloid is where pretty much everything started. All of you hardened cynics out there can play as cool as you want to, but The Wizard of Oz gave viewers a physical representation of the make-believe that is still completely enthralling to this day. From flying monkeys to talking men of metal, Dorothy’s Oz is the benchmark for adventure in a fantasy realm. Remember: “Many, many miles east of nowhere” came way before “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
Well there you have it, Maniacs. If you need to get in the mood before seeing Where The Wild Things Are, the movies listed above run the full spectrum on the genre between themselves. Each one is a pleasure by itself and we’re guessing Spike Jonze’s film will be as well!
Mania is the premiere online destination for fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and anime entertainment. It is the largest community offering profiles, video, science fiction movies, sci fi TV, art, sci fi comics, photos, cheats, blogs, science fiction books, forums and feedback. Mania offers insider entertainment industry info and original content for science fiction, fantasy, and horror entertainment genres including: video games, comics, gadgets, movies, television, toys, music, books, DVDs and more.