A Wrinkle in Time: How America’s most banned book became an impactful film for New Zealand

23 March 2018
By Fashion Quarterly


Go for the cast, stay for the story.

Women in film – or lack thereof. It’s the headline that’s been doing the rounds in Hollywood with everyone from women’s rights advocate Oprah Winfrey (um, can we just say Golden Globes speech?) to Oscar-winning Frances McDormand calling for equality, not just for pay but for equal employment opportunities for both cast and crew too. Hello #inclusionrider.

When the controversial novel A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962, a young woman named Catherine Hand—at the time just 10 years old—knew she wanted to adapt the book into a film. Given the state of play of  the film industry at the time, Hand was resigned to the reality that that decision to bring it to life rested in the power of a man. Fast forward 54 years, and Hand, along with a collective of kick-ass women, have finally done it. And – spoiler alert – it’s a masterpiece.

Here’s why:

It’s led by powerful women

Oscar-nominated female director Ava DuVernay has cast perhaps the most authoritative #TimesUp trio you can find: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling.

“I wasn’t just casting for actresses. I was casting for leaders—icons,” DuVernay says of choosing Kaling, Winfrey, and Witherspoon to play Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit respectively, in the family fantasy film.



It’s fought for its place

Bringing to life a fantastical tale of hope during a moment of despair, the novel itself—like the women in Hollywood—has endured adversity. Historically, Wrinkle’s storyline sat among the ranks of censored classics like The Catcher in the Rye (profanity) and Charlotte’s Web (talking animals) as one of the most banned books in America.

Though it ultimately went on to become a beloved and widely studied part of the US curriculum, the book endured a series of censorship afflictions due to its ‘un-Christian’ themes of witchcraft, divination, “new age” approach to spirituality and general nature being reverential of Jesus, despite author Madeleine L’Engle being Christian herself, and, not least among the reasons it became so widely read: its hero was a young woman.

WATCH: The trailer for A Wrinkle in Time

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Following the discovery of a new form of space travel as well as her father’s disappearance, lead character Meg, her brother, and her friend must join three magical beings – Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which – to travel across the universe to rescue him from a terrible evil.

Filming took place in New Zealand

Wrinkle’s science-fantasy proportions traverse time and space exploring lands which boast some of the most epic scenery in the world. While most of the film was shot in Los Angeles, it was only natural that filming of said epic scenery would take place in—you guessed it—New Zealand.

Utilising the serene landscapes of the Southern Alps as the backdrop for the film, actors Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling were blown away by their surroundings, frequenting their personal social media accounts with updates during their stay based out of Wanaka.

So much so, that collectively their posts garnered more than two million likes and 16.7k comments from their followers and exposed New Zealand’s South Island to the rest of the world. US Vogue even published an article on why Wanaka should be next on your list of travel destinations. Let’s just call it the #WrinkleEffect.

While New Zealand isn’t necessarily a new concept for Hollywood, with past blockbusters Lord of the Rings, Avatar and The Piano all having taken advantage of its surreal beauty, coupled with Wrinkle’s clean sweep of influential lead actors, it ought to be enough to sway anyone with even a mere interest in culture to get to the theatre.

It helped shine a spotlight on New Zealand fashion

New Zealand fashion label Kowtow was also subject to favourable publicity when Witherspoon was photographed wearing their ‘Out of Sight’ crewneck sweater in yellow while on location – the sweater being one of several New Zealand designer pieces in the star’s wardrobe.

According to Wanaka boutique 47 Frocks, Witherspoon’s local designer haul included a Deadly Ponies‘ ‘Poucher’ bag and ‘Pom Pom’ purse. She told 47 Frocks’ owner Brydon Smallbone that they were for her 17-year-old lookalike daughter Ava. She also bought the Karen Walker ‘Lugubrious’ dress, a Lonely bodysuit and a pair of Sol Sana boots. Girl has good taste.

There’s a bigger picture win in all this

In today’s climate, a family fantasy sci-fi is considered mainstream. But this family fantasy is deliberately woven with powerful themes of strong women, passionate leaders, and serves as a barometer for everything that’s progressed socially and politically until this very point in time. The fact that they chose New Zealand so willingly to house these significant messages is just the cherry on top.

Photos: Disney and Supplied

WATCH: Oprah Winfrey speaks out at the Golden Globes

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