ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
US, 2016, 108 minutes, Colour.
Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Lindsay Duncan, Leo Bill, Geraldine James, Andrew Scott, Richard Armitage, Ed Speelers.
Voices of: Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Stephen Fry, Martin Sheen, Paul Whitehouse, Meera Syal.
Directed by James Bobin.
It is probably not a good idea to reread Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass before you go to see this film – otherwise you will find that it bears practically no resemblance to the novel. As the credits indicate, the screenplay is based on characters created by Lewis Carroll.
In 2009, director Tim Burton produced a lavish presentation of Alice in Wonderland, drawing on his long career of imaginative storytelling (and a touch of emphasis on the dark side). Mia Wasakowska played Alice and has had quite an extraordinary international career since then. She is Alice again, seven years later, seven years older. How do the filmmakers cope?
At the opening of the film, we have a young adult Alice, captain of a sailing ship in the 1870s, pursued by pirates on the Straits of Malacca, using her courage and skills to tip the boat at an angle to enable it to get through the shallow reefs and so evade the pirates. On her return to London, she is determined to take out a ship again. The family who had employed her, also have the documents to her home and have decided that it would be best if she simply worked as a clerk in their London office.
Surely time to go through the Looking Glass! Which she does, finding herself for a short time in Wonderland, meeting old friends, especially the Mad Hatter, Johnny Depp again, and the March Hare, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the butterfly Absalom, the White Rabbit, the dormouse, the lumbering dog. But she doesn’t stay long because she finds that the Mad Hatter is pining for his family who have either disappeared or died. The White Queen, Anne Hathaway again, is concerned for him and urges Alice to travel back into the past.
This she does, finding Time, a creature with human exterior and clockwork interior, played in a more subdued fashion by Sacha Barron Cohen. He and Alice clash but she takes his time travelling capsule and goes back to the day of the coronation of the new Queen, the Red Queen, Helena Bonham Carter again, and the Mad Hatter laughing at the proceedings – with the angry Red Queen threatening him and his family, sending the Dragon to destroy them.
Alice realises that she cannot change history yet she decides to go back even further, to see the two young princesses, their clashes and the moment when the Red Queen hits her head and develops an angry persona. Alice has to get back to Time because the Red Queen is in vindictive mode and wants to take control of all time which means that every living thing will be transformed into stone unless Alice is able to rescue the world – in time.
Not exactly Lewis Carroll material.
However, this is quite an entertaining piece, with enjoyable performances and with rather overwhelming extraordinary special effects. Perhaps too frightening for young audiences, perhaps not absorbing for older children, but maybe something for those audiences who have a love for Alice in Wonderland.
1. The popularity of Tim Burton’s original film? Its style, fantasy, dark? Cast, voices? Glimpses of Wonderland, the more eerie setting in time travel in the past?
2. The human characters, the animated characters, the backgrounds, the musical score?
3. The plot, based on Lewis Carroll’s characters, different from the original novel? The continuing of Alice’s experiences in Wonderland, her mother, her being the captain of the ship, her skills, return to London?
4. The focus on Alice, the glass and going into Wonderland, time travel, history? The focus on the Madcap Hatter, his friends and their behaviour, chatter? His loss of his family? The possibility for changing history?
5. The animation, the action, colourful, the sets, costumes and decor, an imaginary world?
6. Alice, the Straits of Malacca, the pirates, the 1870s? Alice as the captain? Her crew, the orders and skills, the manoeuvre in slanting the ship, getting through the rocks? Success?
7. The return to London, meeting her mother, her mother selling the home, the plans, the ship, going to visit the family, the rejected suitor and his meanness, his mother? Taking back the ship, offering Alice a job as a clerk in the office, her refusing?
8. Absolom the butterfly, appearance, leading Alice to the looking glass, her meeting her old friends again, the Hatter, upset, his house, his grieving over the loss of his family? The White Queen and her skills, the future? The Red Queen and her anger?
9. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the March Hare, the dog, the dormouse, the patter and chatter, the tea-party and it always being a minute before teatime?
10. Alice, her task, the journey to time and the clocks, Time and his comedy routines? The philosophy of time, the phrases about time, the clocks, the crew, Alice and the capsule, travelling through space and time?
11. The coronation, the two daughters? Pomp and circumstance, the king and queen? The Red Queen as the heir? The Hatter, his family, costumes? The Hatter laughing? The reaction of the Red Queen? Punishing him, punishing the family, believed to be dead, caught in the miniature?
12. The flashbacks and the two princesses, the girls and the eating of the tarts, the White Queen and her lie, The Red Queen being blamed? Running away, the accident, hitting her head? And the White Queen and Alice unable to change history?
13. Alice going to change history on the day of the Dragon, the Red Queen and her mayhem, the dragon and destruction? Alice unable to change time and history? The discovery of the parents? The return, the Hatter and his feebleness, yet alive?
14. Alice, the Hatter, Time, the capsule, to save the family?
15. The Red Queen, her control, reversing the processes, everybody dying and preserved? Alice, her race to the top, the quest to insert the drop? the electric spark, the drop, the reversal of the death process?
16. The reconciliation, Time and his acceptance? The Hatter and his friends?
17. Alice, the interlude where she woke up and was in the institution, getting out? The final decision to go back?
18. Her mother, not signing the document, the shock of the wealthy family? The new company, the ships and the enterprise?
19. Alice and her future?