ArtView June 2014 - Page 43

produced the myth of childhood innocence. This was reflected in his books. Where the Wild Things Are caused much controversy when it was first published. Many critics believed that children should not be exposed to its darkness. Sendak’s philosophy, providing the title of the film, is: “Tell them anything you want.” Because children already know these things. And they also know how to keep them to themselves, because they aren’t supposed to know them. It is the child who protects the adult, in Sendak’s view. He sought to bring that to light through his work. Sendak speaks of his “permanent dissatisfaction.” He grudgingly admits that he has found some happiness in his work. find any consolation in the thought that artistic achievement will confer immortality. He recalls that even the artists he admired most had to face oblivion: “The day after Paul Newman died, he was twice as dead!” He dreads the shambling decrepitude that is bound to take hold of him. “It hasn’t happened yet,” Jonze reassures him. "I did some very good books. They were the only true happiness I've ever enjoyed in my entire life." He is not content to rest on his laurels as creator of Where the Wild Things Are. Even near the end of his life, he still hopes to write something more simple and powerful than anything he has produced before. His creative ambition is not flagging. Sendak died a few years later, in 2012. His death “But it’s gonna!” Sendak fires back. was sudden, not the lingering decrepitude that he His grim humour, as well as his honesty, are feared. And he was working to the end – his last book irresistible. His dark themes stem from a troubled childhood. was published posthumously, the hauntingly mysterious and beautiful My Brother’s Book. This The most spellbinding moments of the film are when film will stand as a unique tribute to his extraordinary he speaks of his childhood traumas. He was involved talent and personality. I found it to be one of the most in the accidental death of one of his boyhood friends. insightful and moving portraits of any author I have He was also haunted by the kidnapping and murder of seen. the Lindbergh baby. These events shaped his outlook Nazam Anhar is a children’s author published by on life, and his approach to his work. Scholastic Australia. For Sendak, childhood could never be innocent. It was only the misunderstanding of adults that www.hbo.com/documentaries/tell-them-anythingyou-want-a-portrait-of-maurice-sendak#/