13 March 2010

Like Alice

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

Such nonsense from Lewis Carroll.

Or is it?

I just came home from watching Alice with my dear friend Rainy. Up until now I have never felt that poem made much sense {obviously}, but I can see it clearly now, thanks to Tim Burton. I am so glad that I saw the movie with my friend {really wish we could have seen it in 3D}. It seems that we both shared so much in common with young Alice {albeit for different reasons}. I wonder if you share things in common with Alice, too?

Tim Burton fills his world with color and wonder and deep dark demons {note: this is NOT a movie for children, like the 6 year old sitting next to me - good luck with bedtime tonight, dad}. The characters that populate his imagination are rich and filled with poetic reckoning, but also with a curiouser and curiouser stature. {I think that Mr Burton would be an interesting dinner date, don't you? My husband would disagree...he just thinks he is weird.}

As pure entertainment, it ranks right up there as a most visually stunning feast, or tea party, if you will. I found the sets, the costuming, the make-up and the fantasy world all winners. I enjoyed Johnny Depp's delightfully quirky performance as the Mad Hatter {seriously, who else could play that role?}, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen {she reads pathetically fearful at the same time}, Crispin Glover is perfect as the creepy Knave of Hearts {with a twisted penchant for big things}, and all the animated characters who truly came alive from what I had wished every other version had looked like.

However, I did not care one wit for Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, and I really like Anne Hathaway. I was distracted consistently with her huge black eyebrows, dark lips and nails and the strange way she posed with her hands. {It seemed as though she were unsure of who her character was supposed to be.}

I have read some reviews which labeled Mia Wasikowska ineffectual as Alice, because she was so naive and stiff at every turn. I happened to like her portrayal because she wasn't the sentimental wide-eyed child that we have come to know from any of the other Alice renditions {like the animated Disney classic, which is much too saccharine}. I think that it was important for her to be on the verge of becoming an adult, with her eyes wide open and her inability to see this 'Underland' as anything but a dream. Children naturally accept the Wonderland. This Alice has lost the ability to delve into her unconscious dreams, as she stared into the precipice of what her adult life would hold. I found that more believable, not less.

This quest that Alice embarked upon started with a day that should be something celebrated, but was rather dreaded. A day in which the culmination of a life of pleasing others came to an abrupt halt. When Alice took a moment to follow the White Rabbit, she took back her life.

After tumbling down the rabbit hole, Alice encounters a world at once strange and familiar. She is told that she is most certainly not the real Alice, although she swears she knows who she is. But who is she really? Or rather, what is she becoming?

Absalom, the blue huffing caterpillar {voiced masterfully by Alan Rickman}, mysteriously pronounces the grown-up girl as 'hardly Alice.' Indignantly, she insists that she is exactly who she says she is, but that she is not the Alice they want her to be. And thus ensues her quest to find the true Alice.

I think that I am quite like Alice. What about you?

Like Alice, I may be too often pulled in a direction that I don't want to go, as the Tweedles do to her.
Like Alice, I am told what I must do certain things and am expected to be happy with what I get, as her sister Margaret tells her.
Like Alice, I feel constricted by the ideals that society puts on me, as if wearing a codfish on my head would make any more sense.

And like Alice, there is a 'Wonderland' inside of me, waiting to be re-discovered.

There is also a Jabberwocky to slay in each of us. Has thou done battle with your Jabberwock?

My Jabberwocky may be different than yours...my Jabberwock rears it's ugly head in thoughts that I am not good enough that routinely throw me off track...self-sabotage that I heap on myself preventing me from fulfilling my potential...doubt of my worth that creeps in on Cheshire cat feet before vanishing in a pouf of regret at what I haven't done, what I have failed at.

As the White Queen says, it must be your choice to slay the Jabberwock and when you go you will go alone. Just knowing that you have the entire White army behind you and your own cast of wacky 'Wonderland' characters, including a Mad Hatter in your corner ready to take up a sword and fight beside you, should give you the courage you need.

"From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole, I've been told what I must do and who I must be. This is MY path. I'll decide where it goes from here."

At one point, Alice says that she charts her own path. That turning point sets her firmly toward her goals. And once her Vorpal sword slays her Jabberwock {we are told that the Vorpal sword knows what to do, as long as it is held steady}, she is given a choice: stay in 'Wonderland' or go back to the reality that awaits.

I am glad that Alice went back. She succeeded in challenging the dragons that were clearly ambushing her at the top of the rabbit hole because she knew that she would always have the 'Wonderland' inside of her. And that gave her the courage to dare to dream.

In the end, Absalom begins his own transformation, and proclaims that Alice has indeed found herself. She has become more complete now that she has vanquished her Jabberwock with a snicker-snack. She has regained her 'muchness' {muchness, n.
physical magnitude or largeness}. She is about to become all that she can be. She is spreading her wings to fly.

I will take a cue from Alice and fight the battles that need to be won, with resourcefulness and confidence on the way to celebrating my muchness and vanquishing the impossible.

"This is impossible," laments Alice.
"Only if you believe it," replies The Hatter.

Are you inspired by this rendition of Alice in Wonderland?
In what ways are you like Alice?
Do you recall a turning point where you lost the ability to see your Wonderland?
Have you come upon a turning point where you regained your Wonderland?
What is your inner Jabberwocky to slay?
Do you have an impossible dream?
Who is your Mad Hatter, who believes in you, sees your true self and spurs you on?
Do tell!

Check It Out::Alice in Wonderland featurette
Enjoy the day!


stregata said...

Interesting review! I haven't ever seen an Alice movie and I read the book - how many lives ago? When I was a child, which now seems oddly non-specific in reference to this story. Sadly, I still have to wait until this movie will be available here. But I am looking forward to it. Meanwhile, maybe I should try to get hold of the book...

mairedodd said...

oh you know i loved this movie... but i will be honest and say that i do not read reviews of burton films... he is a truly creative mind that is often misunderstood... i like that he gives characters additional emotional depth - like setting alice firmly in our world with decisions to be made before she even slips into wonderland or underland... (think of the background he gave willie wonka, edward scissorhands) i will be honest, a midnight showing left me a bit bleary on some details... i do like that alice came face-to-face with her jabberwock alone in one world and returned with confidence to do it again... i did like anne hathaway though... i felt that the affected posture was a part of the character - as much as the exaggerated body parts surrounding the queen of hearts... same with the flashes of color... i interpret her tension as reflecting upon the violence in her world, her troubles with her sister... that even though she was white and shining, there were troubles - and she knew it was not her battle to fight... so she couldn't do anything about it...
really wonderful review erin... i need to see it again! re: the rest of the questions - i need time to reflect upon those, which i will... thanks for asking them...

Rosanne said...

Loved that show, we saw it this weekend. You did a wonderful review too.

Lisa Crone said...

Hi there! What a great post, and yes, I think we might be kin...same here. Thanks for sharing this! :)

treasurefield said...

During the wait for the release of this movie, my excitement kind of cooled. I don't know what I was expecting (chaos?) but I really enjoyed and liked it.
Except the White Queen. I completely agree with you about that. I've always disliked bleached-blonde hair with dark eyebrows, and the big, black lips bothered me, too. Thankfully, she wasn't around much.
On the other hand, I found the Red Queen very entertaining. LOL!
I was also thinking the casting of Crispin Glover was a good move.
I was hoping to see more hat creations by the MH, though. Otherwise, I liked him and didn't think I would. And there was plenty of other visual stimulation! Very artful.
Alice was just adorable. I WISH I were that brave and adventurous!
As for my Jabberwocky, I think it's probably depression. I'm trying to do what I can to fight it, and like Alice was advised, hold steady.
Great review. I could've written it myself IF I could write!
~Alisa R. :)

Alice said...

Thanks for the great review! I may have to see this one by myself since I can't find anyone who shares my interest.

OK, besides having the name Alice, I have many other things in common with her. I grew up with my path in life already chosen, my personality molded, and my thoughts were never my own. It was not until I was around nearly 30 years old that I realized I was my own person. Also, I tend to do things because I feel that's what I should do, or what others want me to do, not necessarily that it is what I want to do. Confidence does not come easily to me, and in fact I have rarely felt it. Mostly I just stumble upon it, and it trips me up for a moment or two.

Thanks again for a great review and the gorgeous photos!

Jenners said...

I personally think Tim Burton is a genius ... and his visuals are just amazing. I totally want to see this movie ... but I don't think it would be good for my Little One!!

I also plan on reading the book this year ... I never did read it!

Anonymous said...

I saw the movie on a weekend trip to Sweden, so I got the chance to see it in both original english tone and 3D (it would have been synchronized here in Germany, original tone happens but is a rare event). I'm glad I did not have to miss Alan Rickman voicing Absalom, and I doubt that the Hatter would be nearly as cool with anyone else's voice. I don't think you missed much about the 3D, though - most of the time I did not notice it at all, and in the scenes when they were throwing stuff around, it proved to be rather distracting. I could imagine that it might have worked better on a huge IMAX screen, though. Can't expect _that_ kind of magic from your average cinema screen I guess.

I loved the movie, but to be honest I didn't care much about the main storyline concerning the slaying of the Jabberwocky. I found it too predictable and somewhat artificial, as if they needed to prop up all the nonsense with an underlying meaning to make it movie-worthy. I would have been completely happy with more of the nonsense, personally, it's what I've always loved about Lewis Carroll. And just meeting all the beloved characters and seeing them brought to life was worth every penny. Was it inspiring? Yes, definitely. My head is still swirling with the colours and pictures. I definitely need to read the book again...

I loved the scene in the beginning when Alice's father tells her that it's OK for her to be "bonkers", because all the best people are. I always saw Alice as an odd kid, the kind of dreamer who doesn't fit in, likes to imagine things and asks weird questions - I certainly was that way as a kid, and most of the heroes in my childhood tales were that way as well. Having grown up I eventually started feeling that being odd isn't OK after all. If you don't wear a corset and socks as everyone else does, people look at you just as if you _were_ wearing a codfish on your head. I don't know when exactly I "lost the ability to see my Wonderland", it just gradually slipped away. And I haven't figured out yet if I even want it back, but seeing this film made me kind of "homesick" for it.

My "inner Jabberwocky" actually seems kind of similar to yours, but as someone already mentioned depression - I certainly know _that_ Jabberwocky, and it's a mean and ugly beast for sure.
I doubt that I have or need any impossible dreams right now, I struggle enough as it is, with just the possible ones.
My "Mad Hatter" would be my boyfriend, although it might probably be better not to tell him, he might not like being called that *g*

Julie Pishny said...

Erin this is a wonderful post...beautifully written. I am compelled to get to the theatre to see this movie. Jabberwockies...critical inner voice, scheduling exercise into my day and making healthy food choices...fear of loosing my parents more quickly than I would like, fear that my children will have the type of happiness in their lives that I wish for them. I am sure these are common threads among women.

Thank you for the posting and though provoking questions. Always a pleasure to visit you...blessings - Julie

Riki Schumacher said...

Hi Erin, I love your post too. Very thought provoking. Saw the movie, with girl friends, loved it. I do like what Tim did with it, very quirky almost. I loved what Johhny did with the mad hatter, you never know what he's going to do with a character. White Queen, liked her, but the hands did get to me a bit, I must admit. We all have our demons to slay, guess we do it at our own pace, if at all! Love your questions. I'll ponder those. Take care, Riki


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