Alice in Wonderland

I went to see Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton this morning. The short version of what I’m going to say is this: I LOVED IT.

If you decide you want to know why, keep reading, but be warned, there will be spoilers.

Lewis Carroll’s stories of Alice and her adventures through the looking glass is one of my favorites. I never liked it when I was small, because I only understood the parts of the story that scared me and could not understand the humor. But once I began really studying literature and learning the way the English language shines brightest when the speaker/writer is playing, I feel in love with Alice in Wonderland.

Tim Burton’s envisioning of Alice and all of Wonderland embodies the playfulness of the story Carroll wrote out.

The story of the movie is not either book, while incorporating the best parts of each. The “Jabberwocky” poem runs throughout the movie, along with the extended chess match. And all of my favorite characters get extended roles in Burton’s film. I loved spending more time with the Mad Hatter and the Doormouse and the Cheshire Cat.

One of the best elements of the film was the sympathetic characterization of some of the more fearsome creatures. I never realized I could learn to love a furious Bandersnatch, or see the Queen of Hearts constant yelling as a cover for deep hurt.

Equally as intriguing was the undercurrent of unease throughout Wonderland, and not just in response to the Queen of Hearts. The White Queen maybe the true ruler, but there is something eerie in her court. It could be the distance required by royalty, or the overwhelming whiteness of her court and people. I’m sure these ideas will become clearer when I own the DVD and can watch it repeatedly.

What I walked out of the movie with was an appreciation of how stories reflect their time. One of the MA classes talked about what keeps Alice going and what saves her time and again in her Wonderland trials. Our conclusion was that Alice’s manners and ability to be proper, regardless of the circumstances or situations, make her able to return to her home.

Burton’s film has a less proper Alice, but she doesn’t need to be proper to make it home here. In 2010, Alice needs, more than anything else, to be herself and nothing else. But how Burton differentiates Alice’s need to be wholly herself from being independent of her companions. In the end, Alice relies on her whole being, but she can only take the necessary steps because she is surrounded by companions, particularly the Mad Hatter, who encourage her. Each of her companions pushes her in small and not so small ways to be more her, while she in turns encourages them to be more completely who they are.

I loved following Alice on her re-discovery of herself, and I loved how the movie ended. I completely enjoyed the new places Burton and the cast took such a familiar story.

These are my gushing thoughts on Tim Burton’s re-telling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But I know my thoughts won’t be anyone else’s.

So what did you think of the movie?

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