Nelson Mandela, former South African president and renowned anti-apartheid protestor, once said “it always seems impossible until it’s done." Carrying a similar message to Mandela's quote, Wonder, directed by Stephen Chbosky, is an inspirational tale of bravery, independence, confidence, and daring to dream big. The film is about August Pullman, a young boy born with genetic differences causing his face to contrast with those of his peers. The story is inspirational and incredible in its nature and based on a novel written by R.J. Palacio with the same name.
As August, or Auggie, is starting fifth grade and attending school for the first time, it seems like he has an impossible task ahead of him: making friends, doing well in school, and attempting to grasp how judgmental people can really be. One of the morals of the film is to embrace who you are and to not let people judge you from the outside, emphasizing what’s on the inside. It sounds like a cheesy motto to live by, but if everyone took time to establish who they want to be as a person, rather than thinking about how others will perceive them, we would be better off. Easier said than done, learning who you are as a person is valuable.
Friendship is another theme of the film. Auggie experiences the harsh reality that, sometimes, the people you thought were your closest friends can turn into those who judge and look down on you. However, something I thought was particularly powerful was how Auggie composed himself after hearing firsthand the negative words said by his so-called “best friend” Jack. He was able to accept that Jack had made a mistake and that moving forward in their friendship would be the best option. This is an incredible idea to witness as an audience member. The fact that a young boy is able to be forgiving to this extent is so empowering to those watching. It displays that, even when you feel that the friendship will never be the same, forgiveness is important. Even though it is only a film, it is quite fascinating that a boy of Auggie’s age is able to comprehend such an important life lesson already.
Finally, family is another important theme. Having a place to belong and people who love and support you is critical. Also, surrounding yourself with the right people who have your best interests at heart is special. Auggie's family demonstrates that the people that love and take care of Auggie are the most influential in his success.
Overall, I felt that this film was very well constructed. It was nice to be exposed to something outside the “normal” film boundaries. I highly recommend it for all ages, but especially to younger children, for I feel there is a lot to learn from it. Although it has taken a while, the film industry is progressing slowly into an age of cinema in which the emphasis of films does not have to be on a white man, with a female love interest. Though audiences have stayed the same, themes are impactful: main characters are not restricted by gender, and films are beginning to place emphasis on important issues and topics applicable to current events. Indeed, Auggie Pullman is an inspirational boy with a wonderful story that everyone should experience.