Based on the book by E. B. White.
Version: 2006; starring Julia Roberts; Oprah Winfrey; Robert Redford
Genre: children’s classic
Plot Summary: Everyone thinks the phase won’t last when a runt piglet is adopted by a young girl. Obviously, pigs are raised for one purpose only… consumption. Wilbur won’t last a chance unless his friends can do something. One brave and intelligent spider sets out to save him.
My Review: It’s hard to believe this movie has been around for 12+ years now. I remember when it came to theaters and I was so excited to see it! But our family couldn’t go to the movies very often, and so I never got the chance. My friend saw it with her family though, and I heard her tell all about it while I harbored feelings of envy. It was so good, she claimed that even her dad cried over it!
Finally I found this movie at my local library bookstore for $1. I’ve been saving it for sometime special and watched with family over New Year’s. But actually, this movie is quite an ordinary type of story. No, not ordinary in that it lacked creative entertainment value. Rather, I mean the story is about noticing and enjoying the ordinary miracles we encounter daily.
Perhaps it might sound like a worn out theme– this one of mindfulness. But one we need to be reminded of over and over again until we get it and even then refuse to ‘get it’ because then we will close ourselves off from discovery. I’m very familiar with the story of “Charlotte’s Web.” I read the book in 3rd grade (the first one I ever cried over), and watched the old ’70’s animated version countless times. But I’m not sure I ever picked up on this message in the storyline. I appreciated this newer version for the quiet simplicity with which they mined the story, and staying true to the spirit of E. B. White’s tale. One reason this story seemed to jump out at me so is because I spent a lot of last year struggling with contentment with my time in life. I finally came to the conclusion that there are things I enjoy and also things I do not enjoy about now, but my business is to seek out the joy of the present things that God has for me in today.
For Wilbur, this is his natural born gift. Being a young spring pig, he marvels in sunrises and sunsets, he treasures the gift of a carrot and every silvery wisp of web. The other barnyard animals have been around for a time or two and have become complacent in their everyday living. But by the end of the story, they too have fallen under the magic of everyday-ness. It was a beautiful transformation to watch.
I also noticed how it was of great significance to Wilbur what things were named. And Charlotte searched for just the right word to describe something. It was important that it be correct and true. Somehow, naming something affirms that that person or event in time (no matter how small) has value.
Charlotte lived and used her life to save her friend, and then died. As the narrator (the late Sam Shepard) said at the end of the film, “…but she lived on in the hearts of those who knew her.” It was ironic because my pastor had just said that morning that our Savior Jesus is alive– “not just in the hearts of those who remembered Him, but as a real scars and eating-grilled-fish alive.” Because of that, we can truly live too. And we can enjoy abundant life and all of the beautiful gifts He blesses us with.
I always wondered how life-like animals would work for Charlotte’s Web. When it came out in 2006, it was one of the first successful of it’s kind. Of course, animation and cgi has made great leaps and bounds since then. I was relieved to discover they didn’t churn out a hokey production. Voice actors were chosen with care. I’m not always a big fan of choosing big name celebrities for projects just because of their name. They have to earn the voice acting role in my book. But I have to say they were all pretty good, even the young actor who played Wilbur (cute as all get out). The only exception where I’m not sure I was 100% convinced was Julia Roberts as Charlotte. She has a splendid, proper voice, both stern and soothing when need be and suitable enough. Yet she didn’t seem to “fill out” all the colors of her character. My personal favorite was the voice of Templeton. I encourage anyone to watch the special features (if available) to see the behind-the-scenes casting decisions and recording studio. That stuff always fascinates me!
I know this was a successful adaptation of the book, because it made me tear up just like the story did when I was 8 years old. Definitely a family movie I wouldn’t mind seeing again!