By KATE JOHNSON
Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” film is facing backlash and controversy for the blatant omission of the Christian ideals and various Biblical passages that are prevalent throughout Madeleine L’Engle’s original novel.
L’Engle passed away in 2007. The writer was a devout Christian who used her book, A Wrinkle in Time, to express her thoughts about God.
“If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, that is it,” L’Engle wrote in her journal about the book. “This is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death.”
After the release of the film adaption of the story, many noted the omission of the Christian themes of the book. The screenwriter for the film, Jennifer Lee, gave an interview with Uproxx in which she explained why she decided to remove the Biblical references and Christian values.
“What I looked at, one of the reasons Madeleine L’Engle’s . . . had that strong Christian element to it wasn’t just because she was Christian, but because she was frustrated with things that needed to be said to her in the world and she wasn’t finding a way to say it and she wanted to stay true to her faith,” said Lee.
Lee noted that there are Christian themes central to the book, A Wrinkle in Time, but she opted to omit or alter these for the move in order to portray a more inclusive and secular message.
“That’s what inclusiveness is to me in this film, is really looking at all of us have a role to play in this no matter where we come from or what we look like,” Lee told Uproxx.
In an article discussing the controversy, CBN emphasized L’Engle’s deep faith and how the author said her book spurred from her personal relationship with God. CBN, in a covert manner, expressed that Lee’s adaption of the story was an attack on the Christian faith.
“It appears Lee believes espousing such Biblical truths are somewhat irrelevant and outdated in today’s modern world,” wrote CBN.
Movieguide gave a more neutral perspective on the differences between the book and the film. Their review of the film expressed that although Christianity is omitted from the film, it still does send children a positive message.
“Overall, ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ has a positive moral, redemptive message about a relationship between a father and a daughter being restored, as well as a clear picture of good versus evil.”
Nevertheless, Movieguide did make note that the omission of the Christian themes of the story was a dramatic alteration of the book.
“A Wrinkle In Time is based on the best-selling novel by Madeline L’Engle. However, many of the faith statements and themes in Madeline’s book aren’t included in the movie. Instead, the movie adds lots of New Age content, including an emphasis on being one with the universe and the energy people create with positive or negative thoughts. At one point, one character mentions every ‘spiritual,’ ‘religious,’ and historical icon, but seems to exclude Jesus Christ, as if Christianity was the one thing they didn’t want to include. In the book, however, Jesus is the iconic figure.”
Vox wrote a lengthy article about the film giving L’Engle’s life story growing up in the Episcopalian Church and facing persecution for her fantasy writing. In its coverage, Vox chose to discuss the trend in Hollywood of shying away from religious undertones in children’s movies from an analytical perspective on the matter.
“This may be, in part, due to the demands on big-budget fantasy ‘family’ films to easily lend themselves to theme park rides and merchandising sales, something harder to do with films that take a divisive or complicated approach to faith. ‘Good triumphs over evil’ is a lot more salable and straightforward than ‘the universe exists because God became man,’ even if the paradox of the latter lends Wrinkle its existential weight,” said Vox writer Tara Burton.
The Washington Post covered the response to the new film with a lengthy story on L’Engle and an interview with Sarah Arthur, author of a upcoming biography of L’Engle titled “A Light So Lovely.”
“There are a lot of people who believe the strength that you need to fight the darkness is in you,” Arthur said. “But it’s because they were connected to the source of light who is Jesus. If it’s unmoored from Madeleine’s Christian faith, it’s missing a big piece of the spiritual thrust of what she was doing,” said Arthur to The Washington Post.
The Washington Post article, similarly to the Vox article, took a more analytical approach to how Christian themes are translated from children’s books to movies and the effect that has on the box office crowds.
“Early reviews of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ are mixed, drawing a 44 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And a film starring Oprah, who is also controversial among some conservative Christians, might not attract the same kind of crowd that soaked up films such as ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ ‘The Blind Side’ and Disney’s adaptation of Lewis’s ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’” said Washington Post writer Sarah Bailey.