Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wondering About Alice

I have never been a fan of Lewis Carroll's oeuvre. OK, "The Jabberwocky" is a fun read. But Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has always put me off. Maybe it was the the fact that I find the original illustrations by John Tenniel disturbing, maybe it was the story that I just wasn't getting. However, with the new Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland film coming out on DVD in June, I am gearing up to suffer through it, because I love Tim Burton.

I have to admit that my first attempt to ready myself for Alice was not successful, but I went at it somewhat backwards by watching Alice Through the Looking Glass. Silly me, I didn't realize this was from a different story! I was simply taken with the cast, which features some of my favorite English actors-Kate Beckinsale, Ian Holm, Penelope Wilton, Siân Phillips, Geoffrey Palmer, Steve Coogan, Greg Wise, Ian Richardson. However, I found the movie both tedious & incomprehensible. I just don't care about Alice, I thought.

However, I had a breakthrough this weekend with Alice, subtitled "A Look into Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & at the Curious Relationship between Alice Liddell & Lewis Carroll". This is also a DVD, 80 minutes about everything Alice (& charmingly including footage from the 1903 fragment and the 1915 film of Alice in Wonderland). There is footage of Alice Liddell Hargreaves, aged 80, visiting New York City for the first time with her son Caryl during the centennial celebrations of Lewis Carroll's birth. There are archival photos by Carroll of Alice & many of his other 'child-friends', of which Alice was neither the first or the last; background information about Carroll (a.k.a. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), including his interests in mathematics, logic, & subverting the traditional Victorian moral tale for children, all of which show up in his books; & an explanation of Carroll's place in the Victorian canon & how the Alice phenomenon came about (& continues today). Also, everyone knows Alice Liddell was the inspiration for Alice, but did you know that Carroll based the White Rabbit on himself & that the Red Queen may be based on the Liddells' governess?

Hopefully, this background material which I found so eye-opening will make sitting through Alice in Wonderland much more pleasurable. The cast is even better than Alice Through the Looking Glass, anyway.

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