ALICE IN WONDERLAND
US/UK, 2010, 105 minutes, Colour.
Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Martin Csokas, Tim Piggot-Smith?, Frances de la Tour, Lindsay Duncan, Geraldine James, Leo Bill.
Voices of: Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor, Paul Whitehouse, Timothy Spall, Jim Carter, Imelda Staunton.
Directed by Tim Burton.
And filmed in 3D.
Tim Burton, who is fascinated by the unusual, the bizarre and the imaginative, and his screenwriter Linda Woolverton (who worked on screenplays for Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) have tried to be creatively different with this new version of Lewis Carroll's stories which have been filmed so often.
We first meet a six year old Alice who has nightmares, falling down the hole, following the White Rabbit and encountering the familiar characters, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Mad Hatter, March Hare, Doormouse and Cheshire Cat, and, of course, the Queens.
Now she is 19 and, at a lavish Victorian garden party, is proposed to by a silly-ass wealthy young man. She needs some moments to think – and there is the White Rabbit and down the hole she goes again. She is now in Underland (she had made a mistake before, hearing it as Wonderland) and Tim Burton territory it is, and looks it with its graphic design and colours, its sense of mystery and eerieness, and the old characters are here again, some enhanced by CGI (like Helena Bonham Carter's Red Queen yelling 'off with his head'), or designed as eccentric (Like Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter – after all Tim Burton has put him on screen bizarrely as Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka and Sweeney Todd) or looking storybook f ey (like Anne Hathaway as the White Queen).
The voices of the characters are excellent, very British: Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat, Alan Rickman as the blue caterpillar, Absolem, Timothy Spall as the Beagle, Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit, Barbara Windsor as the Doormouse and some sinister words from Christopher Lee as the Jabberwocky.
Speaking of the Jabberwocky, the plot is a kind of quest to destroy it on frabjous day. And Alice is meant to be the champion of the White Queen to kill it. More than a touch of dungeons and dragons.
Many of the well-loved stories from Carroll's books are enjoyably staged and performed. The finale of executions, white and red card/guards fighting and Alice's doing a St George and Joan of Arc against the Jabberwocky are impressively presented (and may upset some younger audiences because of their vividness).
Mia Wasikowski is a strong and determined 19 year old Alice.
1.A different version of Alice in Wonderland? Tim Burton and his imagination, fantasy, dark?
2.The production impact: the sets and the design, the 19th century real world, Underland? Landscapes, buildings, the sets and costumes, makeup? The CGI enhancement of the figures? The humans, the creatures?
3.The strong cast, appearance, voices?
4.The introduction to Alice, age six, her dreams, talking things over with her father, Wonderland? Her family, her father going overseas, business, death, her relationship with her mother?
5.Alice at nineteen, her mother accompanying her to the party? The rich family, snobs? The mother and her control? The father pleasant and with happy memories of Alice’s father? Hamish, his delicate stomach, chinless? Alice’s sister and her advice? Seeing her sister’s husband betraying her? Threatening him? Her going for a walk with Hamish’s mother?
6.The White Rabbit, his waistcoat, in a hurry, Alice following him through the maze, looking down the hole, falling? The familiar fall, the little door, Eat Me and Drink Me? The key, left on the table, her differing sizes? Entering into Underland? Her journey, the creatures telling her she was the wrong Alice? The memories of the past? Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Caterpillar, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Dormouse? The fierce creature, the Dodo…?
7.Alice as a character, her age, strong, her interactions with the Red Queen, with the Mad Hatter, the journey? The confrontation with the Knave of Hearts? With the White Queen, becoming her champion? The Mad Hatter to be executed? Her reluctance to fight the Jabberwocky, her change of mind? The battle with the Jabberwocky? Cutting off its head?
8.The Mad Hatter and his appearance, mad chatter, his advice, like a clown, the arrest? The March Hare, the Dormouse and the party? The March Hare and his mad cooking in the kitchen? The Dormouse and her interventions?
9.The Cheshire Cat, appearance, voice, continually moving, giving advice, tone of voice, the execution, the fight with the Jabberwocky?
10.Absolem and his wisdom, giving advice to Alice, thinking she was the wrong Alice, changing his mind? Going into cocoon, becoming a butterfly – and passing by at the end?
11.Tweedledum and Tweedledee, their bounce, their helping Alice?
12.The White Queen, her fey manner, way of speaking, sister to the Red Queen, wanting to recover her crown, wanting a champion?
13.The Red Queen, her appearance, shouting, the Knave of Hearts, the battles, the Mad Hatter and the execution, her way of ruling, tyrannical? The Knave of Hearts and his card soldiers?
14.The Knave of Hearts and his being the queen’s henchman, the troops, the drawing of battle lines, capitulating, his backing down at the end? His being the villain of the film?
15.The Jabberwocky, his sonorous voice, monster, Alice and her battle with him?
16.Alice’s adventures, her return to the real world, turning down Hamish’s proposal, the family shock, his father urging her to join him in business, the docks, the wharves, the plans?
17.A 21st century variation on Lewis Carroll’s stories?