Warning: Spoilers ahead for “A Wrinkle in Time.”
Disney’s big-budget adaptation of the best-selling novel “A Wrinkle in Time” falters in many of the same ways the book does— but there was one major change made in the movie from the novel. The film’s version of events strips away explicit mention of God or religion, instead trimming down the central conflict to one between “evil” and “light.”
Though the film adaptation has several critical flaws — namely pacing and an off-kilter wobble between too much exposition and then not enough — the removal of L’Engle’s religious overtones leads to a key issue.
By removing the religious themes, the movie version of “A Wrinkle in Time” loses part of its narrative arc. This leads to a confusing storyline and muddled message when it comes to the antagonist and the purpose of the celestial characters of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which.
Christianity is integral to the book version of “A Wrinkle in Time”
Author Madeleine L’Engle, who died in 2007 at age 88, spoke about the importance of her own Christian faith as it relates to “A Wrinkle in Time.”
“If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it,” L’Engle reportedly wrote in her journal. “This is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death.”
The core story the “A Wrinkle in Time” book is the journey of Meg and Charles Wallace Murray as they try to find and rescue their father. A friend, Calvin, helps them along the way. The trio is guided by three mysterious beings — Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which — to a dark planet called Camazotz where Mr. Murray is being held by an evil force.
The three Mrs. Ws are mysterious beings who materialize in different forms and have different uses of language. At one point, Mrs. Whatsit transforms into “a creature more beautiful than any Meg had even imagined […] she was a marble white body with powerful flanks, something like a horse but at the same time completely unlike a horse.”
Later, the children watch as a star battles the evil shadow — the “Dark Things” which the Mrs. Ws tell the children they need to fight in order to save Mr. Murray. Charles Wallace realizes that Mrs. Whatsit was once a star too, and lost her star-form after battling the Evil.
As the Mrs. explain the Dark Thing as an evil “power of darkness,” they tell the children that fighters have been battling the Evil in the universe for many thousands of years.
“Jesus! Why of course, Jesus!” Charles Wallace yells when Mrs. Whatsit tells the children they know who the best fighters have been.
Meg and Calvin chime in with other fighters, including Leonardo da Vinci and Gandhi and Buddha.
Later in the book, Meg and Calvin are struggling to explain what the Mrs. beings are. Finally Calvin finds the words, and calls them “angels” and “messengers of God.”
As Meg gets closer to facing the evil (also called “IT”), she is told that God has called her to his purpose by both Mr. Murray and the angels.
Before Meg re-enters Camazotz to face IT for the final time, Mrs. Who leaves her with the following quote from Corinthians:
“God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.”
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