Alice In Wonderland
by Laura Tucker
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It hit me while watching the latest version of Alice In Wonderland that I’ve never really seen the movie or read the story. How can that be? Yet, I know the characters, mostly just from Disney references I assume. Because of that, I had nothing to compare it to, although I knew there would be a great difference between the storytelling of Walt Disney and that of Tim Burton. No one can be as dark and odd as Burton, and adding in the unique Wonderland characters certainly makes it an experience.
Even with my limited knowledge of the original story, I know that the largest difference between this telling and the Disney version is that Alice is much older in this one. She’s a young girl in the animated Alice In Wonderland, but in this one, that combines both live action and CGI, she’s at first a young girl believing herself to be having dreams of Wonderland, then thirteen years later she’s a young woman (Mia Wasikowskia) who is about to get engaged. She’s unsure if she wants that future for herself, and can’t stop focusing on the rabbit she sees hopping around, eventually falling down his rabbit hole.
Once down in the rabbit hole Alice meets all these unique characters she remembers from her dreams. They keep saying she’s the wrong Alice, only because they remember the young version of her from thirteen years ago. They have been waiting for her to return to defeat the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) Jabberwocky so that the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) can return to power. Alice is still unsure if this is still a dream or not. While she was always able to wake herself from this dream when she was little by pinching herself, it’s no longer working.
It took until the end of the film for me to find the story. There were so many crazy characters it was hard to look past that to find more to it than just craziness. Whether Wonderland is real or not doesn’t matter so much, just as it doesn’t matter in the end of Wizard of Oz if Dorothy really left Kansas and ended up in the Land of Oz. What matters is what the characters learn along the way. Dorothy we know learns that there is no place like home, and Alice finds out who she is. She’s unsure if she wants to get married or not, and really she can’t progress with her life until she fully leaves her childhood behind, and she can’t do that until she addresses Wonderland and if it was real or just her dreams.
But of course, that’s what I’m taking out of it. As Tim Burton said, “That is what Carroll did so beautifully and he was so cryptic with what he wrote. You can analyze it to death but it still remains a mystical, kind of unidentifiable thing and yet it is so powerful.” Michael Sheen, who starred as the White Rabbit, believed that the story is all of our “collective dream.” Anne Hathaway talked of reading one person’s viewpoint that Wonderland is a place of extreme emotions, and for her, that was her connecting point.
And finally, it’s a good thing that Burton is on the storytelling end and Johnny Depp on the performing end. Depp, who starred as the Mad Hatter, admitted that in one of his dreams, “Alan Hale, the skipper of Gilligan’s Island, chased me through the streets of Hollywood.” I think Burton has much better dreams.
Alice In Wonderland is currently available in a Combo Pack that includes the film in three formats, Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital copy.
Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.
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