Dedicated to classics and hits.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (book) by Lewis Carroll

Mia Wasikowska as Alice in Wonderland in Tim Burtons terrible 2010 film.  It certainly was Disney who decided that Alice would only be seen in a blue dress for all eternity- I didn't see that description of her clothing in the book.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (book)
 by Lewis Carroll
p. 1865

   Like  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a narrative that has transcended it's original format and become the modern day equivalent of a myth.   There have to be at least 10 million people in the world who have only heard of the Disney film franchise or vaguely know that there is a book and have never read the original text.  And why would you?  Certainly there is nothing particularly compelling at Alice in Wonderland in its original format except for it actually being the original telling.

Here is the classic depiction of Alice in Wonderland from the 1951 Disney film. In the book the character of Alice is recognizable to anyone who has read the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen she is a child, but behaves like a little Victorian adult

   The only format that Alice in Wonderland is missing from its stable of hits is a the big budget Broadway Musical/Re--invention a la Wicked or Into The Woods.  If I read tomorrow morning that Green Day's Bilie Joe Armstrong had been hired by Disney to pen a musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland it wouldn't shock me.

   And who could forget the terrible Tim Burton lackluster live action version of Alice in Wonderland from 2010. (6.5 on IMDB.)  The only thing the 2010 Tim Burton film had going for it was casting Mia Wasikowska.  Some truly, truly bad casting in that movie.  It's not entirely clear why you would even want to update the 1951 Disney Film, which is basically itself a bigger classic then the original novel.
Anne Hathaway as the White Queen in Tim Burtons 2010 film version of Alice in Wonderland.

  Many Authors from the Victorian period (like Charles Dickens) didn't obtain the full extent of their recognition UNTIL the 1950s, so the fact that Disney's version came out in 1951 puts in that same time period of critical reevaluation of early-mid period Victorian source material.

  Presumably in 1951 there was some Disney executive with a copy of Water Babies by Charles Kingsley and Alice in Wonderland on his desk and a report about why Alice was the project to green-light.
Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen in the 2010 film. WHAT A DISASTER AND WASTE OF MONEY!!!!

 Equally interesting is the emergence of Alice in Wonderland as a metaphor itself OR the use of poetics derived from the book/film.  Certainly the most memorable of these is the conversation she has with the Caterpillar about eating a mushroom to make your larger or smaller.  This scene comes off just as trippy as it does in the 1951 film.

  Like Water Babies, Alice in Wonderland is a "children's book" from a time when children were essentiallly treated like tiny adults.  Certainly your average 10 year old today would be hard pressed to enjoy the book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  Or maybe I'm wrong about that.   I can see why you'd WANT a child to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Carroll/Dodson is nimble prose stylist and still manages to keep the story simple enough to engage someone with a 10 year olds attention span.

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