It was announced yesterday (August 5th) that the director of Disney’s Frozen, Jennifer Lee, has taken on a new project: A Wrinkle in Time.
A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962 by Madeleine L’Engle and tells the story of a young girl, Meg, who travels through space and time to find her missing scientist father.
Happily, Disney’s younger audience is about to receive, on a silver platter, a story whose conflict is resolved by a young girl’s use of — and multiple other female character’s use of — science. And all from a woman who knows a thing or two about female representation in children’s movies. This will be Lee’s third writing gig for the Disney Animation Studio (she co-wrote Frozen and worked on the script for Wreck it Ralph), a story Lee supposedly pushed for as the perfect follow-up to Frozen. According to theguardian.com, “L’Engle’s novel, one of Lee’s favourite childhood books, features a storyline with echoes of the animated musical’s hugely popular female-focused narrative.” Whether or not she’ll direct it, however, has yet to be announced, but the odds seem to be in her favor. Frozen was where she made her directorial debut, and it picked up close to $1.3 billion at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing animated movie of all time, and the fifth biggest overall.
I have had a love affair with L’Engle’s stories since I was in elementary school. And, from what I know and have seen of Frozen, it’s just the sort of thing to get movie viewers (namely, young girls and boys) excited about a new rendition of A Wrinkle in Time.
This isn’t the first time Disney has put out an adaptation of one of L’Engle’s novels, but it could turn out to be the biggest interpretation. Older viewers may remember Disney’s made-for-TV version of A Wrinkle in Time, which premiered on ABC in 2003. In 2002, Disney released — during what was arguably the Golden Age of Disney Channel Original Movies — an adaptation of L’Engle’s novel, A Ring of Endless Light, another science-heavy novel of hers that features a young female protagonist. Neither of these adaptations blew critics away. But I can say with absolute certainty that it really meant a lot to 12-14 year old me to see a girl in a starring role whose main plot line didn’t center around taking out “the popular girl” and winning “the hot guy” while keeping all of her peers on her side.
In A Ring of Endless Light, Vicky deals with her grandfather’s leukemia and the ever prevalent issue of dolphins being wiped out as a side effect of careless deep sea fishing. In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg learns the importance of her intelligence as she takes on foes inspired by the laws of physics in order to save her father.
Frozen allowed the stereotypical love story of Disney princess movies to take a back seat to the more important plot of two princesses saving their kingdom. Written by the woman who made that distinction, an A Wrinkle in Time adaptation could potentially take the love story out of a movie geared toward young girls altogether. Multiplecommercials have been released that inspire girls to take on — and stick with — science, math, and other passions in fields typically dominated by men. And this is something girls should be seeing in movies, too. It’s great to have ads telling girls that they’re smart, in addition to being pretty, but it can be confusing to hear this then see a movie about a princess searching for her prince while maintaining her royal beauty. A Wrinkle in Time is a great example of a movie that will deliver the same message that these ads have sent.
So long as Jennifer Lee keeps the focus on Meg, her journey, and the tesseract in this new take on A Wrinkle in Time — and I have every confidence that she will — a younger generation of girls is in for a wonderful and empowering story.