Where the Wild Things Are Reading Log

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VISUAL Title: Where the Wild Things Are Director: Spike Jonze Cultural Perspective: American Gender Perspective: Male Critical Reputation: Yes (Nominated for the Saturn Award) Date of Response: 21 September 2011 ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ directed by Spike Jonze links to the theme crisis and change through the character Max and his struggle to control his emotions. Max runs away and falls asleep and dreams of the island where the wild things live each wild thing representing parts of himself and his relationships with his family members.
On the island he is placed to govern his own feelings after fighting with his mother. The wild things are symbols of the relationships he has with his sister and mum and his own emotions. Many of what happens in his world where the wild things live parallel Max’s reality such as the dirt clod war which contrasts the snowball fight he had where he splits his emotions into good and ‘bad’ teams. Carroll, Douglas and KW are on his side while Judith, Ira, Alexander and Bull are classed as bad.
Carroll is a symbol of Max’s uncontrollable anger and his destructive side which Max understands the best because he is constantly battling anger. Douglas is the symbol of reason and KW a girl who is full of love and represents his mother especially when she hides him from Carroll and also the close relationship between Carroll and KW because he does have a close relationship with his mother and she is the one who experiences the most of his anger bursts, however she is not really there when he needs her because she has to work.

But there is a lovely moment between Max and his mother early on in the film which symbolises the love between them, when his mother writes the story Max tells her while he plays with her feet. ‘”There were some buildings… There were these really tall buildings, and they could walk. Then there were some vampires. And one of the vampires bit the tallest building, and his fangs broke off. Then all his other teeth fell out. Then he started crying. And then, all the other vampires said, “Why are you crying? Weren’t those just your baby teeth? ” And he said, “No.
Those were my grown-up teeth. ” And the vampires knew he couldn’t be a vampire anymore, so they left him. The end. ”’ This is a moment when Max opens up to his mother through his creative side, and one of the nicest moments between Max and his mother in the whole film. Judith is a symbol of his relationship with his sister. They don’t really get on and she isn’t there for him when he needs her as represented by the quote that Judith says ‘”You know what? You can’t do that back to me. If we’re upset, your job is not to get upset back at us. Our job is to be upset.
If I get mad and wanna eat you, then you have to say: “Oh, okay. You can eat me. I love you. Whatever makes you happy, Judith? ” That’s what you’re supposed to do! ”’ this is exactly what Max expects from his sister and he is constantly upset by her. Ira symbolises the part of Max that is pushed around by the people in his life and Alexander symbolises the side of Max that no one listens to and is mistreated by the other wild things. Bull is a symbol of the journey and how that there are always going to be parts of yourself you won’t understand and that Max’s emotional journey has only just begun.
Max changes throughout his time on that he spends on the island and comes to understand what his mother has to put up with as he finds it extremely hard to be in charge of Carroll as he is unruly. As he leaves the island KW says ‘”Don’t go, I’ll eat you up. I love you so”’ which reflects how she swallowed Max to protect him from Carroll because she loves him. He goes back to have a greater understanding of himself and what his mother has to put up with. Throughout the movie you feel sorry for Max as he is misunderstood and ignored.
His sister doesn’t stand up for him when he is squashed in the snow fort he built with him inside. I also felt that some of his behaviour was unnecessary but throughout his stay on the island you find out that he had just not matured enough to understand what others had to put up with until he had to put up with it himself. ‘I don’t talk to owls. Owls are stupid. ’ This quote symbolises how Max has no understanding and feels left out because he cannot understand what the owls are saying just like Carroll.
The film also connects to the theme crisis and change with the idea that children are burdened with adults problems. Max is told by the teacher at school that the sun is going to die and this shocks him. Later on while he and Carroll are touring the island they come across the empty part of the world. Carroll says ‘”this part of your kingdom is not so good”… ”Well, look this used to be all rock, now it’s all sand, and then one day it’s going to all be dust and then the whole island will be dust, and then… I don’t even know what comes after dust. ’ This symbolises how max is burdened with the fact that not only is his childish imagination dying but so is he, just like the sun. Later max responds by saying ‘”Carroll, did you know the sun was going to die? ”’ Carroll responds with ‘”What? I’ve never heard that… oh come on. That can’t happen. I mean you’re the king, and look at me, I’m big! How can guys like us worry about a tiny thing like the sun? ”’ this shows how Max’s problems seem so much bigger than the sun at the moment but there is still the worry nibbling at him.
When Max found out that the sun was going to die, I felt angry at his teacher for not explaining that it will take millions of years and for scaring Max. I didn’t like the look of worry on Max’s face, when we see that this boy has so much more to come to terms with in himself, and is now burdened by something he needn’t worry about as it is still millions of years away. He learns that he can continue living even though Judith tells him ‘Happiness isn’t always the best way to be happy. ’ He discovers there is more to being happy than he had thought before

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