Alice In Wonderland
A young, sensible girl from a wealthy English family, Alice finds herself in a land run by nonsense and imagination. One afternoon, she looks over her older sister's shoulder as she reads when she sees a white rabbit in a waistcoat run by her. He continuously exclaims, "I'm late!" while constantly checking his pocket watch. Alice is now intrigued by this white rabbit, and follows him down the rabbit hole into a world completely unbeknownst to her. She undergoes shrinking and growing, meets all sorts of interesting people, such as the Mad Hatter (a madman who makes hats), the Cheshire Cat (a cool, collected, omniscient being in Wonderland who understands the inner workings of the land best) and the Queen of Hearts (the ruler of Wonderland, and ultimately the heart of Alice's conflict in this nonsensical realm). Eventually, after going through one peculiar adventure after another, Alice finds herself watching a trial in the Kingdom of Hearts against a Knave who stole the Queen's tarts. After a brief and aggressive disagreement with the Queen's deck of cards, Alice suddenly wakes up on her sister's lap, then proceeds to tell her all about the wonderful adventures she had.
The Inevitable Loss of Childhood Innocence
Throughout Alice's adventures, she encounters many puzzles and crossroads that confuse her and ultimately frustrate her, which imitates the way life can throw unexpected situations towards us. Alice expects these situations she encounters to make some sort of sense, but repeatedly gets aggravated in her ability to try and comprehend Wonderland. She attempts to solve riddles from the March Hare, make sense of the Caucus race, and understand the Queen's croquet game, but to no avail. Each situation she encounters provides no solid, sensible solution. Lewis Carroll, a logician, makes this piece of work a farce of jokes, riddles, and games of logic. Carroll then conveys a broader point about life and its frustrating attributes through Alice learning that she can't find logic or sound solutions to everything Wonderland throws at her, much like life does with us as we grow up.
Much like the loss of childhood innocence, this novel presents the importance of identity. Wonderland is constantly shifting, as is Alice. The instability the land has creates anxiety and confusion, but it also allows for a certain exploration. What constitutes an identity, especially in Wonderland? Names, behaviors, abilities, knowledge, and other things make up the identities of all these strange characters residing in Wonderland. It's also easy to spot the split identities in this novel, such as the Queen of Hearts. She seems kind to Alice at first, but she progressively grows nastier and reveals a more evil side of herself. This reveals how in life we're constantly shifting from one personality or characteristic to another, or how the people we encounter can have split identities, revealing how we don't know who we could be talking to at any given point in time. In order to continue in the quest of life (or Wonderland, in Alice's case) we must be willing to question our own identity and that of other's to be able to live a comfortable life.
Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
When Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she entered a whole new world. After following the white rabbit in the waistcoat, curiosity overcame her. After quickly overcoming the shock of seeing a rabbit dressed and talking, she quickly follows him into the rabbit hole. At first she's just walking in a tunnel, but suddenly the tunnel becomes a straight drop downwards and she falls down, down, down for a very long time. Eventually she begins to see cupboards, shelves, maps, all sorts of things that one would find in a house. She seems to be falling so slowly down the tunnel that she's able to grab a jar of marmalade and place it back on a shelf without any trouble. As she continues her fall, she begins talking to herself about her cat, then murmurs about cats and bats and which animal eats the other. This scene is key because it breaches some of the central characteristics of the novel: madness and nonsense. The reader is able to tell that Alice has entered a world completely different from the one she's used to and because of the seemingly unending fall, Alice goes a little loopy waiting for the end. Without this scene, it would be unclear whether Alice arrived in Wonderland or not.
Alice and the Blue Caterpillar
After very small Alice has already encountered some pretty strange things, such as talking animals and drastically changing sizes, she finds a blue caterpillar smoking a hookah on a mushroom. After looking at each other for a little while, the caterpillar asks Alice who she is. After her nonsense adventures thus far, she tells him she thought she knew who she was when she woke up that morning, but after several changes, she isn't so sure anymore. When the caterpillar asks her to explain, she isn't able to because she claims it's too confusing, to which the caterpillar says otherwise. When Alice tries to compare all of her strange changes to metamorphosis, the caterpillar says these changes won't feel strange to him at all. As Alice and the caterpillar continue their banter, she continuously grows irritated with the him and attempts to leave. But the caterpillar calls her back and they continue with their nonsensical conversation that only confuses and annoys Alice. This ties in a lot with the theme of identity. Who is Alice at this point in the story? She thought she was a young girl following a white rabbit, but after all of her physical and emotional changes, she isn't entirely sure she's Alice anymore. This also ties into the theme of loss of innocence. The conversation she has with the caterpillar should be straightforward and clear, but with his constant arguing and his muddy logic, Alice gets very frustrated, just as we do in life with characters and identities like the blue caterpillar.
In Walt Disney's 1951 version of Alice in Wonderland, he does an excellent job at bringing Lewis Carroll's novel to life. The situations Alice encounters in the novel are smoothly executed in cartoon version and anyone who has read the book can easily compare their imagination to the big screen. The movie version is more enjoyable than the book, in my opinion, mainly because Carroll's work is transferred from book to film, but also because the movie holds a childish and whimsical air. It holds humor and imagination, which taps into audience's younger side and almost makes them nostalgic for their innocent fantasies. The childish imagination is what really makes the film stand out beyond the novel. Because it was true to the book for the vast majority of the movie (the last scene in Wonderland in Disney's version is different from the book), it gives innovative directors more leeway to create a version of Alice in Wonderland that will spark the interest of viewers beyond the classic story, much like Tim Burton did a few years ago.
The original version of Alice in Wonderland was very fit for children and a wonderful story for all ages and groups of people. The Tim Burton version was a little darker with a slight twist on the story, making this Alice’s second trip to Wonderland, though unbeknownst to her. In this pitch for a live action film, Alice in Wonderland could be a great movie with the same story line, tweaked details, and a dark twist targeted to teenagers and young adults.
Rather than having Alice as a young girl in the countryside of England, I think it would be interesting to make Alice a girl of 15 or 16 in the streets of a busy, urban city, such as London. She would be wandering the streets late at night when she sees a white rabbit scamper past her. She sees the rabbit and instantly becomes drawn to the furry animal. Alice follows the rabbit into an alley way where he stands, muttering nervously and continuously glancing at his pocket watch. He beckons Alice forward and she follows him until she reaches a hole in the alley wall. She looks around for anyone who might be watching, then crosses the threshold until she begins to fall deep into the earth looking at all these strange things passing before her eyes.
The remainder of the film would stay true to Carroll’s novel, but when Alice finally wakes up from her rendezvous in Wonderland, she’s surrounded by doctors and nurses working on stabilizing her condition. Alice has overdosed on acid at a party she had attended before going down the rabbit hole. After the camera gets a bird’s eye view of a groggy Alice with an oxygen mask on, the screen fades to white then cuts to Alice in a hospital bed. Her friend is sitting in a chair by her bedside and she asks her what happened. Alice pauses, then looks at her friend with a grin similar to the Cheshire Cat’s.
“I visited the most amazing place,” she says. The camera cuts to her friend, then when it cuts back to Alice, her eyes are green and cat-like and she looks directly into the camera.
Ultimately the movie would subtly warn viewers of drug abuse, but still hold the eerie, playful storyline of Carroll’s work.
Who is Alice?
In this modernized version of Carroll's novel, Alice is a teenage girl living in London with long, bright blonde hair, fair skin, and piercing blue eyes. She's always had her head up in the clouds, and because of her surreal nature, she's always been a little more introverted than her peers. She has a comfortable group of friends that she loves very much and spends time with regularly, especially during weekends. She's always been more inclined to explore other methods of imagination, mainly through the use of drugs. Her desire to discover a world unlike the one she lives in draws her to hallucinogens like mushrooms and acid. Because of her constant airy and imaginative state, Alice thrives in the world she's created during her major acid trip: Wonderland. Since she always mentally lives well above earth's surface, Wonderland becomes her dream world, the place she's always imagined of visiting. She loves the place she travels to, no matter how frustrated or confused she gets at the characters she meets during her journey.
A key scene Alice will play a part in is when she encounters the Cheshire Cat for the first time. In this part of the film, Alice will be walking through the woods observing all the peculiar signs nailed to the trees. All she hears are birds chirping and leaves rustling in the wind, and the sun is peaking through the canopy of trees above her. Suddenly, she feels something brush against her leg. She stops and hears a voice humming a pleasing melody around her ears. When she asks who's there, the Cheshire Cat appears on a branch above her. He introduces himself and continues a conversation with Alice. He explains to her that all the people here are mad, and that she must be careful with who she meets. She must trust no one. Confused, Alice asks why. The Cheshire Cat then floats above her doing tricks and playing games all while telling Alice more about the world she's entered. Her otherworldly outlook on her normal life plays an important role in this scene because she's able to converse with the Cheshire Cat with ease. She isn't shocked by his actions and advice, but intrigued and excited. Her encounter with the Cat doesn't scare or worry her, but causes her to explore the inner workings of Wonderland and discover different people and places.
First choice: Elle Fanning (Left)
Second Choice: Evanna Lynch (Right)
Top Row: A view of the streets Alice wanders on after her night out and before stumbling upon the "rabbit hole" in the alley way.
Bottom Left: This is the most accurate version of the woods Alice walks in. Here she sees all sorts of interesting creatures before meeting the Cheshire Cat.
Bottom Right: This is what the Queen of Hearts' garden looks like. This is her final destination in Wonderland before she's brought out of her trip by the doctors.
This piece of music is from Tim Burton's adaptation of Alice in Wonderland and it's written by Danny Elfman. This will be played throughout the most important parts of the film (i.e., the opening, going home, the encounter with the Queen, etc.
"The Cheshire Cat"
This piece, also by Danny Elfman, will be played when Alice first comes in contact with the Cheshire Cat, specifically when she begins to feel the brushing against her leg. It'll fade out when they begin conversing, then fade back in towards the end of their conversation.
"Alice and Bayard's Journey"
Also by Danny Elfman, this piece will be played right before and during Alice's encounter with the Queen of Hearts. This piece will give an eerie feel to the meeting, giving off the vibe that the Queen of Hearts is not someone to be trifled with in Wonderland.