Good Morning. Enjoy this weekend with family and friends.
I’m going to highlight a movie that will be out next Friday, A Wrinkle In Time. I am looking forward to seeing it with Peanut. Seeing Ms. DuVernay’s multicultural vision.
How Ava DuVernay Became a Creator of Worlds
Late fall in the redwood forests of Northern California, it gets cold. Not wrap-yourself-in-furs cold—we’re still talking 51 degrees—but the kind of cold that demands layers, lest it sink into your bones. Nevertheless, in November 2016, when I visited her movie set near Eureka, director Ava DuVernay was coatless. Just a thermal with a cotton</ shirt over it, jeans, and a knit hat. The young stars of DuVernay’s film were in very lightweight shirts, pretending to be lost in unfamiliar (and, one assumes, warmer) woods, and she wasn’t about to let them be the only ones on her set enduring the chill.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but every time they have to have their jackets off, she takes her jacket off,” producer Jim Whitaker whispered to me as DuVernay called “action!” in the distance. “This is so typical.” Whitaker, of course, is supposed to say things like this. And DuVernay, a former Hollywood publicist skilled in sending a message, knows which notes to hit. From what I’ve seen here on set—her playful and encouraging interactions with her stars, the diversity of her crew, the summer-camp-with-Disney-money conviviality—this act of goose-bumped solidarity is an apt metaphor for the spirit DuVernay is bringing to her adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
If you don’t remember what you read in middle school, A Wrinkle in Time is the story of a young girl named Meg Murry on a mission to save her scientist father, who has been taken prisoner by a dark force in the universe intent on crushing free thought and free will. Along the way she’s assisted by her classmate Calvin O’Keefe, brother Charles Wallace, and three celestial beings—Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit—who help her jump, or tesser, through space-time. The story is the same in DuVernay’s version for Disney, but there are a couple of significant new wrinkles. Since her first feature film in 2008, DuVernay has used whatever success she’s attained to give other women and people of color opportunities on both sides of the camera. So in 2016, when Disney announced that she would direct A Wrinkle in Time, and DuVernay became the first African American woman to helm a $100 million-plus movie (but “not the first capable of doing so,” she later noted on Twitter, “not by a long shot”)—she promised a new vision of the original. “You kind of have to remix the book,” DuVernay told The Wall Street Journal. The casting made clear that she was making good on that promise: Meg is now biracial, played by 14-year-old Storm Reid, and Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey play Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, respectively.
DuVernay isn’t known as a genre director particularly. Her movies and TV shows have been firmly grounded in race, power, politics, and family narratives. But her overall project, building a better world for people of color, doesn’t so much overlap as interleave with one of science fiction’s overall projects: world-building. Sci-fi has always been as much an exercise in thought experimentation as an arena for spectacle, for rocket ships and ray guns.