Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I must first confess that I've never read the story. I think the Disney film creeped me out too much as a child or for one reason or another, I've never seen it all the way through (or that I can recall). The only definitive Alice in Wonderland that I'm familiar with is its treatment with the character of Jervis Tetch a.k.a. The Mad Hatter in the Batman universe, and more specifically, his appearance in several episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. Any of the other adaptations that I tried to watch, including some 1999 TV movie that NBC aired starring Tina Marjorina and Gene Wilder was too bizarre, and frankly, the story is bizarre. I can't be alone in thinking that clearly Lewis Carroll must have been on some kind of opiate while writing it, and yet watching a special employees' screening of the new one, and having perhaps been too overly-saturated with the trailer playing on the lobby televisions at work, the bizarreness didn't scare me off. Instead, I could sit back and relax and see the more whimsical qualities of the story.

Some of my colleagues, most film aficionados, were somewhat displeased given Tim Burton's penchant for bizarre and acidic storytelling (the only film of his I've seen all the way through and that I've enjoyed is Big Fish). Despite all the HotTopic merchandise and the atypical-turned-typical demographic targeted by the film, they didn't think most people would like it. But I did. Having never been that familiar despite the larger pop-culture references to it, it was a new experience for me. One of my friends said that it was alright "but it didn't bring anything new" to the story for her, one of her most beloved since childhood. As I journeyed home, though, I thought that maybe that was the point. While we're constantly being given "groundbreaking" films and whatnot to assimilate into our compendium of what makes for a great film, maybe this wasn't intended to be. Or at least, if you've already been oversaturated like myself into the more bizarre and initially alarming aspects (such as Johnny Depp's hair and makeup), it shouldn't be.

It's an enjoyable film, to say the least. Honestly, once you've gotten past the initial barriers of the bizarre, you can enjoy the wordplay and the whimsy that just is Carroll. You can see the moral and not feel like it's beating you over the head. You can enjoy the fabulous witticisms and the vibrant colors (perhaps the latter more if you were intoxicated or sampling some of Absalom's "finer" hookah product). I don't think Burton intended for this to redefine Alice, but as the mantra of the film surmises, it's meant to remind us of being "Almost Alice," of revisiting and holding on to that childlike wonder and imagination that keeps us young and keeps us more sane even when the world thinks we are otherwise. "Do you think I've gone mad?" "Yes, but the best ones always are."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment. Query. Story.