The work of adapting a fantastical book like A Wrinkle in Time is not an easy one. Writers must decide what characters and elements can stay in and what or who must go. In the case of A Wrinkle in Time, the film is a pretty close adaptation. Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe embark on a grand adventure to save Mr. Murry — Meg and Charles’ father. The film does make a few changes, however, some that have a greater impact on the story than others.
If you’ve read the book, you may have caught some of these changes. If you haven’t or if you need a refresher, here are five ways the film changed elements, moments, or characters from the book.
The Adoption of Charles Wallace
In the book, Charles Wallace is the biological child of the Murry parents. While there is language that describes him as “new” and “special,” he is never listed as adopted. This was changed for the film, as Mrs. Murry described Charles Wallace as “coming to the Murry family.” Screenwriter Jennifer Lee (Frozen) confirmed this change to Den of Geek, as wanting to honor the actor who played Charles Wallace, Deric McCabe’s, Filipino heritage. She also wanted this to reflect an even greater depth of how the Murry’s are a mixed family, “we’re speaking to every family, and we’re not saying it has to be related or blood or one type of family… by him being adopted, I feel like you included all families.”
The Missing Twins, Sandy and Dennys
Anyone who’s read A Wrinkle in Time knows that Charles Wallace and Meg are not the Murry’s only kids — there was also Sandy and Dennys — the Murry twins. In the books, Sandy and Dennys are not as “special” or as smart as Meg or Charles. But that never meant that they weren’t as important as the other kids. They even got their own book, Many Waters, which was the forth book in the A Wrinkle in Time Quintet.
Screenwriter Lee said that they were removed to focus the story more on Meg. Speaking to Hello Giggles, Lee said, “The truth was the part of their journey that was there [for them] was not the part we needed most for Meg.” Lee didn’t rule out a future appearance of the Twins however, if A Wrinkle in Time does become a full franchise, “This is a wonderful family who adopts children so I don’t know, maybe that’ll be fine.”
Gender Swapped Happy Medium
In the book, the Happy Medium is a woman. In the film, the Happy Medium is played by comedic actor Zach Galafianakis (The LEGO Batman Movie). So far Director Ava DuVernay hasn’t explained why the role was gender-swapped. The gender of the Happy Medium doesn’t change his or her role in the film. In fact, Galafianakis gave quite a subtle yet memorable performance in the film. The greatest switch with this character, however, was his personality.
In the book, the Happy Medium is, by definition, happy. She encourages the children to look into her looking glass to find Mr. Murry. She even wants Meg and Calvin to look in on their mothers, because she can feel the homesickness in their hearts. In the film, this scene was transformed into a centering moment for Meg. The Happy Medium was more scared than happy and the crystal ball didn’t reveal Calvin’s mother, like in the book, but his father. Calvin’s mother had a huge role to play in the third book of the series, a Swiftly Tilting Planet, so her exclusion was also very curious.
The Missing Planet Ixchel
The last two changes had to do with Ixchel and Aunt Beast. In the film, Mr. Murry decided to tesser with Meg and Calvin back home to Earth. Meg resisted the tesser and instead found Charles Wallace on another part of Camazotz. In the book, Mr. Murry tessers to Ixchel and Meg almost dies. When she recovers, Mr. Murry wants to go back to Camazotz to save Charles Wallace, not Meg. Meg finally realizes that she must go, but Mr. Murry was the one who wanted to save Charles first. In the film, he goes home and leaves Charles behind. That definitely did not show the true heart or character of Mr. Murry.
The Absence of Aunt Beast
Arguably one of the most loved characters in A Wrinkle in Time is Aunt Beast. This creature from the planet Ixchel rescued Meg after her near death experience on Camazotz. Aunt Beast is a pseudo mother figure for Meg — someone whom Meg lets into her cold heart after encountering the darkness of IT. Aunt Beast is a creature, with fur and long tentacles for arms. At first she is a frightening character, but as Meg learns to trust her, she becomes a source of comfort and kindness for Meg.
The exclusion of Aunt Beast is a sad one, because she helps warm Meg’s heart. She helps restore Meg to strength, which equips Meg to return to Camazotz to save Charles Wallace. Aunt Beast is given a brief shoutout during one point in the film, still, it would have been lovely to see her brought to life on screen. To see Meg wrapped in Aunt Beast’s furry arms would have been on par with Bastian taking refuge in Falkor’s fur in The Neverending Story II.
A Wrinkle in Time: Final Departures
The film also omitted all of the beautiful scriptures that author Madeleine L’Engle included in the original book, something she wove into all of her stories as a way to show her passion for both faith and science. Camazotz was changed pretty dramatically as well, as it was made to look more childlike and fun, as opposed to technical and man-made. A new character was added, Meg’s next door neighbor Veronica, and more backstory was shown of Mr. Murry exploring the tesseract technology.
While the expanded backstory, addition of Veronica, and adoption of Charles Wallace did work in the film’s favor, the absence of the twins and Aunt Beast were the more heartbreaking points of departure. The film also left out Mrs. Whatsit’s declaration of love for Meg, which was the key gift in the book that helped her pour her love out for Charles Wallce, thus defeating IT. Meg was still able to do so in the film, but in a different way.
A Wrinkle in Time is currently in theaters.