Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Erases Book’s Bible Quotes, Cuts Jesus, Christian Figures From History
As Disney adapted the beloved children's book "A Wrinkle in Time" (1962) into a major motion picture — with no less than Oprah Winfrey on the star-studded cast list — the studio cut out a great deal along the way. Bible quotes, a reference to Jesus, and even Christian historical figures all got the boot. Could the excising of God help explain why the movie is projected to struggle at the box office?
In the transition from book to movie, many aspects get left on the cutting-room floor. Even so, these omissions proved particularly egregious, partially because they involved rewriting history.
The battle between good and evil (light and darkness) forms a central theme in "A Wrinkle in Time," and both book and film mention many historical figures who fought the darkness on behalf of the light. Disney seemed zealous to excise any hint of Christianity from the film, going so far as to cut even historic artists mentioned by Madeleine L'Engle, the book's author.
"All through the universe it's being fought, all through the cosmos, and my, but it's a grand and exciting battle," Mrs Whatsit (played by Reese Witherspoon. And no, the Mrs with no period is not a typo, but L'Engle's style) says in the book version. When Calvin (Levi Miller), the love interest and friend of the main character Meg (Storm Reid), asks, "Who have our fighters been?" Mrs Whatsit insists he name some himself.
At this point, Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling) quotes from the Gospel of John, "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5).
Immediately, Meg's unnaturally brilliant brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) declares, "Jesus! Why of course, Jesus!" Mrs Whatsit immediately confirms this — "Of course!"
The Christian references barely began there, however. Calvin goes on to note Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, French theologian Albert Schweitzer, Ludwig van Beethoven, Rembrandt van Rijn, and St. Francis. Charles Wallace mentions William Shakespeare, Johann Sebastian Bach, Louis Pasteur, and others. For her part, Meg brings up Euclid and Nicolaus Copernicus.
Towards the end of the Disney version, the audience gets a much-truncated list: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Jane Austen, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Maya Angelou. To be fair, Einstein, Curie, and Gandhi were in the original book's list.
Notice the excising of history here. Every figure even partially associated with Europe and Christianity — even great artists like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Rembrandt, and Bach — were cut. Jesus, St. Francis, and Copernicus were also erased, despite their huge impact on history and L'Engle's insistence that they were historically important. The author Jane Austen and the Civil Rights activists Mandela and Angelou may be laudable, but these characters pale in comparison, and the switch (which only adds two when removing twelve) cheapens the richness of "A Wrinkle in Time."