One of my favorite films of 2009, Where the Wild Things Are (Warner) is Spike Jonze’s adaptation of/feature-length tribute to the Maurice Sendak picture book, expanded and reimagined in the spirit of the feelings that drives that story. Jonze and his screenwriting partner, Dave Eggers, preserve the imagination and the primal emotions of Sendak while grounding his preadolescent hero in a palpably real suburban world and then transports him to a landscape of craggy coasts and primal forests and sand dunes that is fantastical and primitive: the island of the wild things populated by a tribe of hulking yet childlike monsters equal parts mythological creature and demented stuffed animal. Call it an art film for kids or a fantasy for the child within, but it is unique and beautiful and as honest a tale of being a child as you’ll find on screen, with all of the joy of imagination and anxiety of childhood grounded in the imagery and the landscapes of a tyke’s mind. My feature review of the film is here.
The DVD features four behind-the-scenes featurettes by Lance Bangs. Originally shown as webisodes, these pieces each have their own integrity as snapshots of an element of the production or profiles of collaborators and are full of personality and person expression in addition to providing a peak behind the scenes. Exclusive to the Blu-ray edition are the original live-action adaptation of Sendak’s Higgelty Piggelty Pop! or There Must Be More to Life (a fantastic live action/animated storybook creation brought to life with marvelous costumes, wonderful puppets, stop-motion figures and the voice of Meryl Streep), the “HBO First Look: Where the Wild Things Are” making-of featurette and four more webisode shorts.