Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Journey Through Wonderland

One of my favorite Disney movies is “Alice in Wonderland”.  In a lot of ways it shows a fun journey through an insane landscape of spectacles.  The movie also is really nice to not have a romance tossed in for the hell of it and actually takes a progressive chance at allowing it to remain a story about a strong female lead.

​Of course there are various other versions of this classic as well.  A TV miniseries made in the 1985 was very popular with my sister.  She would play the 6 hour VHS copy complete with commercials all the time.  Without the commercials it’s about half that time but damn, that was a chunk of the day.  It had an all start cast and it went on FOREVER.  But it was an all-encompassing version of the story too. Years later after I read the book I sort of appreciated how much that TV special had actually covered.

​There are other versions too.  Another TV miniseries with Tina Majorino in 1999 also came out on NBC.  It was so-so.  To be honest I don’t remember much of it since except the CGI was pretty poor at the time though they tried REALLY hard to be clever.  Like introducing all the characters in the beginning as normal folks and then having them appear later in Wonderland as if their strange versions would blow our minds.

​ “Alice” was made for the Syfy channel in 2009 in the style of “Tin Man” where Alice returns to Wonderland after some time away.  She’s a martial art expert though and can kick butt.  Are you interested?  Neither was I.   There was a foreign “Alice” made in 1988 that used stop motion and stuffed animals that looked surreal and nightmarish.   I also gave up on this one.

​In 1991-1995 there was Disney’s “Adventures in Wonderland”.  It was a television series on the Disney channel where Alice would talk to her cat Dinah after coming home from her modern school.  Then walk into Wonderland via her mirror to face a similar crisis.  At the end she would return home having learned about herself.  That is really all there is.   The Carebears also went to Wonderland for a movie. But that was really stupid and not fully worth mentioning besides that it happened.  

There is a silent movie from 1903 which I find charming. Mostly because of its stop motion effects at the heyday of film and the use of the family cat as the Cheshire Cat.   It is short but it has a funny charm.  It’s worth seeing just to say you’ve seen it.  Also if you can see the early “Wizard of Oz” silent movies give them a peek as well.  They use a lot of music from “The Nutcracker” ballet and they are pretty well made for the time.

​Finally we get to Tim Burton’s 2010 “Alice in Wonderland”.  Why not just tell the damn Lewis Carroll story we know and love?  Do we really need a movie version of “American McGee’s Alice”?  It came out sounding more like Narnia and it made me wonder a lot of questions.  Like, why do they NEED Alice on their side?  Sure there is that whole prophesy thing but the Cheshire Cat is a can go invisible, can shape shift, and can teleport.  Why the hell isn’t he the White Queen’s champion?

​Let’s not forget they also have foodstuffs that make you grow to giant size.  Like that wouldn’t help in battle.  As for the heartwarming ending where she tells off everyone she knows to go be an apprentice seeking trade routes at age 19.  I have to be a the cynic here that reminds you that in Victorian London you were probably more likely to be stuck in an asylum or killed by Jack the Ripper than have THAT good fortune fall in your lap as a young, uneducated, woman.

​Looking on IMDB I see there are dozens of other varieties I have never seen.   Some I have only caught glimpses of via YouTube like the 1933 version that had Cary Grant, and W.C. Fields. The production actually is pretty impressive and if I get a chance I really want to see it in its entirety.  The girl they got to play Alice actually seems genuine too.  Sort of nice since a lot of versions play her off like a hard- hearted bitch or a whiny brat.  Yes, I know she can be both of those things in the story and she is sometimes but not ALL the time.

She is first and foremost a child and this is a place made of imagination and wonder that she has finally come into.  Her confusion makes her all the more frustrated since everything she has been told is wrong in this place. Some adaptations immediately jump the gun I think and leap to the frustration.  I think they should relax it a tad.  After all, she is there because she was chasing a white rabbit. Which is a pretty childish should she think of it in hindsight.

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