Monday, October 12, 2009

maurice sendak interview on newsweek.com


on american films for children:

Sendak: Europeans have done films about children, like The 400 Blows or My Life as a Dog, which is one of the most wonderful movies ever. It's tough to watch his suffering when his mother is dying and he scoots under the bed. That's the kind of way they have of dealing with children and they always have. We are squeamish. We are Disneyfied. We don't want children to suffer. But what do we do about the fact that they do? The trick is to turn that into art. Not scare children, that's never our intention.

on mickey mouse:

Newsweek:But you have all the Disney characters on your mantel behind you.

Sendak:
I adored Mickey Mouse when I was a child. He was the emblem of happiness and funniness. You went to the movies then, you saw two movies and a short. When Mickey Mouse came on the screen and there was his big head, my sister said she had to hold onto me. I went berserk. I stood on the chair screaming, "My hero! My hero!" He had a lot of guts when he was young. We're both about the same age; we're about a month apart. He was the little brother I always wanted.

Spike Jonze: What was he like when he was young?

Sendak: He had teeth.

Jonze: Literally?

Sendak: He had literally teeth. I have toys in the other room.

Jonze: Was he more dangerous?

Sendak: Yes. He was more dangerous. He did things to Minnie that were not nice. I think what happened, was that he became so popular—this is my own theory—they gave his cruelty and his toughness to Donald Duck. And they made Mickey a fat nothing. He's too important for products. They want him to be placid and nice and adorable. He turned into a schmaltzer. I despised him after a point.

Newsweek: What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?

Sendak: I would tell them to go to hell. That's a question I will not tolerate.

Newsweek: Because kids can handle it?

Sendak: If they can't handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it's not a question that can be answered.

on judy garland's "the wizard of oz":

Sendak: And she lays back in bed and says, "There's no place like home." And there were people who were very critical of that—sentimental—but for me it was pure irony. There is no place like home. Where the hell else is she gonna go? It's the opposite of sentimental—it's the hard truth. Grown-ups are afraid for children. It's not children who are afraid. That movie is unbelievably great.


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