Madeleine L’Engle Adaptations 🎥

Madeleine L’Engle is one of the greatest authors of children’s literature – publishing over 50 books throughout her decorated career. Her best works are adventurous, engaging, gripping and controversial. These qualities make them well-suited for adaptation on the big screen.

Madeleine L'Engle

(1918-2007), American

L’Engle’s works – such as ‘Camilla Dickinson,’ ‘A Ring of Endless Light,’ and especially her bestseller – ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ – have had quite a few book-to-screen remakes. In this article, the analysis will be made of the notable film adaptations done on the works of iconic American writer, Madeleine L’Engle.

A Ring of Endless Light (2002)

A Ring of Endless Light’ follows a 2002 original Disney-produced film based on Madeleine L’Engle’s novel of the same name. Shot in Australia and directed by Greg Beeman, the film features stars like Mischa Barton as Vicky Austin, Ryan Merriman as Adam Eddington, and Jared Padalecki as Zachary Gray. 

Following the film’s release in August of 2002, there was a burst of mixed reviews – with some praising the work for its innovativeness while others had less than positive things to say about it. Laura Fries of the media company Variety saw the actors as making a mess of the original narrative of Madeleine L’Engle’s work. But on the complimentary front, LA Times’ Lynne Heffley led a host of positive reviews of the work.  

Despite bits of bad reviews here and there, the film received a fairly good appraisal from the industry’s top stakeholders – as director Greg Beeman even went on to be nominated for a directorial award for his work in the children’s genre film. 

The plot includes several light alterations but typically still mirrors the original work of L’Engle. Vicky’s ailing grandmother is a cause of extreme sadness for her. To make matters worse, her parents want her to quit her beloved writing and pursue a career in science. She is 16, young, and confused. 

However, she starts to see things a lot clearer as she mingles with these young and vibrant fellows – including one who is a marine biologist who specializes in dolphins. Vicky soon finds she can non verbally connect with these water creatures. Sadly for them, these dolphins are under threat of being killed by a wealthy megalomaniac. Vicky and her friends must act quickly to expose him and save the day. 

A Wrinkle in Time (2003) 

Madeleine L’Engle’s bestseller got a television remake in 2003 and was joint-produced by a Canadian and US film production company. This version was written by Susan Shilliday and directed by John Kent Harrison. The cast included names like Katie Stuart as Meg Murry, Gregory Smith as Calvin O’Keefe, David Dorfman as Charles Wallace Murry, and Chris Potter and Sarah-Jane Redmond as Mr and Mrs Murry respectively. 

As with ‘A Ring of Endless Light,’ critics’ reviews of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ came in different shades – with people like Sharon Eberson praising the book for staying true to Madeleine L’Engle’s original book, while others like Diana Ortiz hinted there was a sheer lack of acting talents and special effect to match the imaginations of the original work.

Following its release, the film made a huge statement on the viewing audience and won the Best Feature Film Award in the 2004 Toronto Children’s Film Festival, and also bagged a nomination for Best Children Script Awards.

The film follows in the footsteps of L’Engle’s 1962 original work and revolves around the life of a 13-year-old awkward Meg whose scientist father’s disappearance is a cause of great sadness to her life as well as that of her mother and three siblings. However, upon a visit by a strange, astral being – Mrs. Whatsit – and friends, Meg, her little brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin O’keefe is shouldered with the responsibility of saving a world-famous scientist – along with the entire world.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Fifteen years after the release of a joint US-Canadian version of ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ a more improved version graced the big screen and this time directed by the multiple award-winning female director and former film publicist, Ava DuVernay.

With Jennifer Lee creating the screenplay and Walt Disney Pictures handling the production, the film brought together quite a list of the crew – with the popular talk show host Oprah Winfrey filling in as Mrs. Which, Storm Reid and Levi Miller as Meg Murry and Calvin O’Keefe, while Deric McCabe cast as Meg’s 5-year-old genius brother, Charles Wallace Murry. 

The film didn’t do so well in cinemas – losing over a hundred million dollars after bookkeepers factored in all expenses and revenues. It was nominated for several high-profile awards but only won in the category of Worse Film of 2018. 

The plot reveals greater clarity, which is maybe a bit too much, for the original, but typically follows the same narrative with Mr Murry going missing for four years and young Meg being sad and depressed from being unable to socialize in school and also missing her father. 

In the version, Meg’s little brother, Charles Wallace, is the one who has acquaintances with the three astral beings – Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who – and through their revelation of the tesseract and desire to help out, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin are sent to rescue Mr. Murry from an alien prison in another planet, Camazotz.

Camilla Dickinson (2012)

Camilla Dickinson’ is another one of Madeleine L’Engle’s books that got a television remake. The filming started in 2010 – with Cornelia Moore as its director. Two years later, it was released to an audience at the Seattle International Film Festival. 

Its cast included Adelaide Clemens, who played the frontal role of Camilla Dickinson, while Gregg Sulkin starred as Frank Rowan. The film was quite impressive post-release and even garnered a handful of prestigious laurels in the categories of Best Narrative Feature, Best Directing, and Best Cinematography in the 2012 Women’s Independent Film Festival. 

Tailored to the original book, the film retells the story of a certain 15-year-old Camilla Dickinson, who is caught in the chaos of her parents’ failing marriage. Because she’s led a sheltered life, Camillia is unable to deal with the growing incompatibility of her parents. However, her life soon changes forever when, upon chance, she becomes acquainted with Luisa, who has a shared dysfunctional experience with her family.


How many of L’Engle’s books have been adapted for television?

Several of L’Engle’s books have over the years been adapted for television. From ‘Camilla Dickinson’ to ‘A Ring of Endless Lights’ to her best work –  ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’

Was the ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ adaptation a success?

A Wrinkle in Time’ by Ava DuVernay wasn’t such a huge success, especially with regard to its market performance, as it lost more than a hundred million post box office, winning 2018’s Worse Film of the Year.

What year was ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ first adapted from book to film?

L’Engle’s bestseller had undergone several book-to-screen adaptations since its 1962 publication, but the first of the same name was shot in 2002 and released the following year. 

Who directed a more refined version of L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’?

Even though her adaptation wasn’t much of a financial success, Ava DuVernay, an award-winning black director, is credited to have masterminded a much more refined version of L’Engle’s original work in ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ 

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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