Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Alice in... Trouble???

One of my favorite tales of all time is The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland.

If you only know Disney's version, consider it your current obligation to some of the greatest children's literature of all time to read the original tale. Lewis Carroll is wacky and ephemeral and beautiful and grotesque and full of values all in one.

Disney's Alice touched nicely on all these elements, and it's certainly eye candy to any viewer, young or old. But, for me, it failed to engage as many senses and inspired fewer brain bursts of a vivid Wonderland than Carroll's mere pen and ink.

(Well, Carroll may have utilized a little more than pen and ink, if you know what I mean, but we won't speak ill of the hobbies and pursuits of the dead on this blog,
which is one of many reasons I haven't mentioned ole' Michael J.)
Now, Tim Burton has me nervous. On one hand, I do see the artistic significance of a Tim Burton Alice and I realize that two visions of Alice are better than one, since that will keep us grounded in the mystery and ultimate unknown of Alice and her Wonderland (because I always thought it was more hers than that mean old Queen's or hurrisome, paranoid old White Rabbit's). Plus, two interpretations will not allow Disney the hegemony of the visual Alice.
But my concern is that Tim Burton, being Tim Burton and all, will only be able to pull from the grotesque and eerie of Carrollism.
I give you Exhibit A:

In the film, sweet Anne Hathaway's character looks, as first glance, like Gwen Stefanie (and no offense to Gwen, but I cannot picture her in Carroll's Wonderland). And not only Gwen, but Gwen dressed up on Halloween as C.S. Lewis's Ice Queen from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Plus, in visually overstimulating films such as Disney's and Burton's, it's easy to miss the witty remarks that are laced throughout the original text. Go here to read some.

My latest theory is that Tim Burton is somehow from the same bloodline as Roald Dahl: a bloodline of dark genius that's somehow been channeled into an urge to create childhood fantasia. I appreciate them both. But they both leave me feeling a slight pessimistic dishevel.

Well, the film is coming in 2010, whether I am okay with it or not.

What do you think Burton will do for the visual Alice?
Will he help or hinder or have no effect on the Alice of heirloom Carrollism?
Or, do you think Burton will more closely connect with Carroll's Alice?
That's certainly a possibility. Maybe Carroll would be so happy with the film he'd share his "pen and ink" paraphernalia with Burton for creating such a perfect interpretation of his Masterpiece. Maybe I'm just being overly sentimental... maybe I should let it be modernized... and Burtonized... oh dear.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you wrote about this. I saw this on the Kid's Lit blog last night, and it bothered me, too.


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