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Time mag­azine fea­tured actresses from the upcoming film adap­tation of “A Wrinkle in Time” on its Dec. 25 cover. Facebook

Time mag­azine thinks “A Wrinkle in Time” will change Hol­lywood and maybe the world when Walt Disney Pic­tures releases the $103 million movie remake March 9.

It just might, but only if it bursts with the beauty of the book that inspires it: “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle. L’Engle asks readers to con­tem­plate objective evil, objective goodness, equality, homo­geneity, justice, love, and hate. It seems like the cast and crew of “Wrinkle” however, may just want to think about social justice and political agendas.

On the cover of Time’s Dec. 25 issue, “Wrinkle” stars Storm Reid, Reese With­er­spoon, Oprah Winfrey, and Mindy Kaling stare out of a photo’s black back­ground, their hair slicked down and their lips set shim­mering with the same shade of matte fuschia lip­stick. Each woman holds her chin just slightly higher than typical posture demands, asserting her power and demanding respect. 

“Wrinkle” Director Ava DuVernay said she searched out this force as she care­fully selected the quartet.

“I wasn’t just casting for actresses. I was casting for leaders — icons,” DuVernay told Time. “Reese is the hottest pro­ducer in town. Oprah’s the most pro­lific, ven­erable legend of tele­vision and an artist and entre­preneur. And Mindy’s one of the few women running a show with her name, about her.”

Through “A Wrinkle in Time,” DuVernay and her squad of wonder women will radiate such power that Hol­lywood will become the epi­center of a country-wide trans­for­mation, says the mag­azine. The story quotes Oprah recalling how she mar­veled at DuVernay’s command on the “Wrinkle” set, thinking to herself, “‘O.K., next gen­er­ation: There you are.’” 

With­er­spoon echoed this sen­timent when she observed that she had never worked with a director who demanded inclu­sivity like DuVernay did. “[Inclu­sivity is] just a dif­ferent per­spective, and you don’t get that unless we start to have pow­erful film­makers of dif­ferent colors, dif­ferent genders,” With­er­spoon told Time.

Time spares no words in explaining how the racially diverse and mostly female cast and crew of “Wrinkle” could sweetly cut Hollywood’s bitter exclu­sivity. Time and the “Wrinkle” team, however, scarcely mention the story they say they’ve fought to retell. The movie will succeed if the women unite their cre­ative prowess with the genius L’Engle dis­plays in her 1962 sci-fi novel. If DuVernay has sub­sti­tuted the story and its themes and lessons with political jabs and social justice rants, it will surely flop.

A staple in the canon of young adult lit­er­ature, “A Wrinkle of Time” is loved by late middle school and early high school stu­dents all over the country. And how could young scholars dislike it? L’Engle makes a hero of a few underdogs who suffer from the same struggles and inse­cu­rities of the ado­lescent readers who make up most of her audience. As Meg Murry, the book’s heroine, pats at the wild tresses of her unruly hair, she tames her volatile temper with even less success. Meg explodes whenever her class­mates tease her about Charles Wallace Murry, her 5-year-old brother who refuses to speak in public, despite his expansive vocab­ulary. Calvin, Meg’s new­found con­fidant, shrouds his superb intellect to fend off bullies who target brainy nerds. 

L’Engle’s story takes a turn for the fan­tastic when Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin travel to worlds in another dimension with a trio of celestial beings known as the “Mrs.” The six set out to save Mr. Murry, Meg, and Charles Wallace’s father, a bril­liant sci­entist trapped on the planet Camazotz. There, the children face an evil being the people of Camazotz call “IT.”

L’Engle stitches proverbs into every chapter of “Wrinkle,” even­tually pre­senting a tapestry thick with wisdom. “We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts,” chides Mrs. Whatsit, one of the guardian angels. 

“Wrinkle” tran­scends didactic sayings and wit­ti­cisms as L’Engle begins to cul­tivate themes many pub­lishers asked her to scrub out, thinking children too simple and naive to grasp pro­found con­cepts. L’Engle has said she knew children could under­stand the serious themes woven into her work since she read drafts of it to her own kids as bedtime stories. She pressed on, and her med­i­ta­tions on diversity, equality, liberty, group-think, pride, and, yes, Jesus Christ, sur­vived. When Meg faces the fearsome, pul­sating brain of IT, for example, she recites the pre­amble to the Dec­la­ration of Inde­pen­dence to extricate her mind from the cerebric hyp­nosis. When IT sneers that his Camazotz has per­fected equality by forcing everyone to be the same, Meg begins to shout some­thing like a mantra: “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!”

L’Engle pushes deeper still as she plays on the theme of darkness and light, good and evil. She presents them as objective oppo­sites and offers only one solution to the problem of hate: love. After Charles Wallace falls to his pride and becomes pos­sessed by IT, Meg realizes she can wrest her little brother’s mind from the monster’s control: “If [Meg] could give love to IT perhaps it would shrivel up and die, for she was sure that IT could not with­stand love… But she could love Charles Wallace.”

The book pairs won­der­fully with DuVernay’s goal to empower a diverse group of women and defy unjust stan­dards. But in her interview with Time, she does not make an explicit con­nection between the story’s themes and why she cast the film to achieve inclu­sivity and nourish cre­ativity. Her actresses seem unaware of this par­allel as well. They cel­e­brate inclu­sivity and diversity (right­fully so) without ever men­tioning that the book hinges on the same con­cepts and cham­pions other noble ideas as well. 

Time finally draws out the link when it quotes Winfrey saying movies and TV shows need more racial diver­si­fi­cation among leading ladies, espe­cially young ones.

“‘When you don’t see yourself, there is a sub­con­scious psy­cho­logical man­i­fes­tation. It’s dimin­ishing.’ But to see yourself as the savior of a world threatened by unquan­tifiable evil? ‘That will have impact far beyond any­thing any mar­keter, any researcher, any of us even know.’”

Time may have put DuVernay’s vision in context of L’Engle’s book in the final sen­tence of its cover story, but, as the saying goes, better late than never. There is hope that DuVernay has seen how she can craft a fan­tastic film that springs from a well-selected cast of tal­ented and diverse women who will leave behind per­sonal agendas to teach its audience about darkness, light, and love. And if the movie dis­ap­points, we can con­tinue to cherish the book.