Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 10
 
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WHOOOOOOOOOO ARE YOUUUUUUUUUU?: The surreal blue caterpillar (Alan Rickman) asks the now 19-year-old Alice the ultimate existential question. To find how Alice answers the question, you will have to see the movie!

Alice in Wonderland:Alice Is a Feminist in Burton’s Remake of Lewis Carroll Classic

Kam Williams

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), aka Lewis Carroll, was the author of many fantasies written for children in a surrealistic style known as literary nonsense. However, he only wrote two books about his most popular character, Alice, namely, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass.

Since 1903 there have been over a dozen screen adaptations of these two books, but cinematic maverick Tim Burton has created his own interpretation of the stories. His version portrays Alice as a 19-year-old rebel instead of the original’s innocent 7-year-old child who had an insatiable curiosity and a vivid imagination.

The story is set in Victorian England where we find Alice (Mia Wasikowska) being raised to be a member of society by her recently widowed mother Alice Kingsleigh (Lindsay Duncan). She is concerned about her strong-willed daughter’s feminist tendencies, especially since her daughter is being pursued by a wealthy suitor Hamish Ascot (Leo Bill). However, when the pompous aristocrat proposes marriage at a lawn party in front of hundreds of people, Alice becomes flustered and asks her admirer for some time to think about the proposal.

She then darts into the woods where she falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in Underland. Although the place is vaguely familiar, she doesn’t remember that she had been there a dozen years earlier. She is quickly reintroduced to the colorful characters who are still inhabiting the magical kingdom. They include old friends like the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Cheshire Cat (Steven Fry), Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) and, of course, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), to name a few.

Alice has arrived when Underland is in the midst of a crisis. She is soon drafted to help end the reign of terror of the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and restore the reign of her sister Mirana (Anne Hathaway), whom the Red Queen has forcefully deposed. This can only be achieved by slaying the Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee), the creature that is defending the Red Queen’s castle.

Alice in Wonderland, 2010 version, follows a fairly linear plotline compared to some of the ethereal versions of the past. Tim Burton masterfully builds tension around whether or not the White Queen will regain the throne. Meanwhile, in the back of your mind, you’re also wondering whether Alice will marry Hamish when she returns to real life, especially after spending time with the dashing and irreverent Mad Hatter.

Not surprisingly, Johnny Depp easily upstages the rest of the cast, with his affected British accent and natural flair for the dramatic. Throw in his zany costume, hyperthyroid eyes, gap toothed grin, and frizzy hair that has turned bright orange (because of the mercury in the brim of his hat), and Depp has created yet another unforgettable character!

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG for fantasy, action, violence, scary images, and smoking. Running time: 108 Minutes. Distributor: Walt Disney.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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