Alice in Wonderland was originally written and published by Lewis Carroll in 1865. The novel tells a tale of a young girl named, Alice who is bored with ordinary things in life like books with no pictures or conversations when she sees a White Rabbit dressed in a waistcoat holding a pocket watch, screaming, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late”. Alice’s curiosity is peeked as she wonders to herself, ‘What could a rabbit possibly be late for?’. The girl follows him down a rabbit hole to a mysterious and strange place called Wonderland. This story has been adapted with various twists and spins on the original, over the last 150 years. One of my favorite remakes of the classic was done by film director, Tim Burton in 2010. Watch the film trailer below:
In this interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, we find Alice as a young woman expected to by married into a wealthy family to a man she finds rather boring and controlling. She has no real interest in him. So when he proposes to her in front of both their families, she feels pressured to say yes: in fear of her family’s judgment and fear that she may never find someone to marry her and she’ll end up like her aging, single aunt. Alice runs away from her decisions when she sees the White Rabbit. She follows him through a maze and down the rabbit hole. When she gets there her friends begin to doubt if she’s the REAL Alice, the same Alice that came to Wonderland years before who played brain teasers with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, drank tea with the Mad Hatter, March Hare, & Mouse in celebration of their unbirthdays, and painted the Queen’s roses red. However, when they do believe she is THE Alice, they tell her she is the only one who can fulfill the prophecy of slaying the Jabbawocky and take down the Queen of Heart from her tyrannic throne. Alice doesn’t believe that she can do it. She thinks it’s impossible but with the help of her friends, through their guidance and belief in her, she is able to do the impossible and change the way we look at our possibilities to make a difference in.
Alice is a true teacher of perseverance and creativity. She is interpreted as the one who creates and finds Wonderland; as someone with an imagination for endless possibilities. Alice is the kind of character who may be seen as a typical human being (a white girl with blonde hair and brown eyes) but wants to understand others outside of that norm and be one of them. She is in no way a poser. She is the real deal, especially as an innovative, fearless woman. We need a timeless tale like Alice in Wonderland to show us that there are no limits. That we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, and on the terms that we want them on.
In Part Two of the tale, Through the Looking Glass, we continue on a voyage of the impossible in a race against Time. Literally. There is a male character who represents Time. Watch the following clip to get an idea of who he is…
LMAO! I know that clip might’ve seemed cheesy but when I saw the film, I almost died from laughter. That was one of my absolute favorite scenes from the film… Anyway, Through the Looking Glass was released in May 2016. If you haven’t seen or heard about the film, check out the video below before I review some spoilers in the following paragraphs:
Wow! That’s some powerful stuff. It was always so fascinating to me that from a feminist perspective how Alice’s belief for anything to be possible or that she can make a difference in the world based on her explorations in Wonderland is the thing that got her put into a mental institution where they classified her “condition” as a “textbook case of female hysteria”. Like excuse me?! What did you just say?! Why is it that when men believe they have the ability to do anything or change the world by exploring foreign lands and just simply existing, that’s normal? But when a woman does it, it’s considered hysterical or “insanity”? What the entire fuck, bro!…
Sorry about that rant, let’s continue on the story line for this film. Well Alice knows there’s nothing wrong with her and she escapes, headed immediately for Wonderland. The Queen is hooked up with a man who controls the elements of time, Time himself that is. She basically plans to go back in time to remove embarrassing moments from her life and erase her sister, the White Queen, from existence so she can be spoiled, pampered and loved by her parents as their only child and only heir to the throne. However, due to Alice’s presence in the impossible race against time with the help of a time travelling machine from the Mad Hatter, she is able to learn about the past, present, and change the future for the good of Wonderland.
In relation to the central element of Time, I think the symbolism of why it’s so important should be addressed. The most relevant example of symbolism was actually represented in Absolem’s transition from caterpillar to butterfly. The natural metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly represents growth, change, and rebirth into freedom and purpose. The fact that Absolem’s name is a symbol of peace is interesting as well, considering that when Alice first met him he was a caterpillar and they argued about the words to a nursery rhyme about crocodiles and now, he’s been a guide to her from childhood into womanhood, just as he has grown from a caterpillar into a butterfly. The metamorphosis doesn’t happen over night though. It takes time for an individual to mature and find their purpose in life. Similar to how in the Through the Looking Glass, Alice has to look back in time to get an understanding of herself and others in order to move forward. In order to morph into who she truly is, which the audience already knows. She’s the savior and maintainer of order in Wonderland.
The last thing, I want to share is the following video about what the actors and actresses behind these colorful characters like the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, the White Queen, and Alice think of the tale of Alice in Wonderland.
So, in the end, Alice in Wonderland truly is a timeless tale of the limitless imagination and endless possibilities created by curiosity, time, friends, and enemies. Tim Burton stamps his brand on this tale and brings it to life by embracing the beauty and the madness of Wonderland.
**Thanks for reading my blog on this truly phenomenal adaptation of my all time favorite story and film, Alice in Wonderland: Part One and Two, done by Tim Burton.
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