Monday, 30 May 2016


“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” - Eugene O’Neill

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (a.k.a. ‘Alice in Wonderland’) is an 1865 novel written by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Carroll wrote the book for a little girl, Alice Pleasance Liddell (born 1852) who was the daughter of The Reverend Robinson Duckworth a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. Alice and her two sisters went on a boating excursion with Carroll and their father in July 1862 and the author amused them all with a story on which the book was subsequently based on. On 26 November 1864, Carroll gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, dedicating it as “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day”.

“Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” (1871) is the second novel by Lewis Carroll, written as a sequel to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Set some six months later than the earlier book, Alice again enters a fantastical world, this time by climbing through a mirror into the world that she can see beyond it. “Through the Looking-Glass” includes such celebrated verses as “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, and the episode involving Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The mirror that inspired Carroll remains displayed in Charlton Kings.

Whereas Carroll’s first book has the deck of cards as a theme, the second book is based on a game of chess, played on a giant chessboard with fields for squares. Most main characters in the story are represented by a chess piece or animals, with Alice herself being a pawn. Both books are magical, whimsical, a delight to read for both children and adults and have been translated into numerous languages worldwide (despite the immense difficulties in accurately translating such punning, word-playing, nonsensical and idiomatic prose!).

The making of films based on the two books has been fruitful, beginning with the 1903 British silent film directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow right up to the latest, 2016 offering “Alice Through the Looking Glass” by James Bobin, made as the sequel to the 2010 Tim Burton movie “Alice inWonderland”. Disney’s 1951 animated version of “Alice in Wonderland” is the other one that immediately springs to mind, but there have been other filmed versions, more than two dozen of them!

The films I am familiar with (about 5 of them) have been less than successful in bringing the wit, whimsy and sheer delight of the word-play to the screen. The emphasis has been on visual effects, with the Burton and Bobin versions going overboard with CGI and spectacularly splendiferous technicolour image wizardry. The latest offering especially James Bobin’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is so far removed from Carroll’s novels that to associate it with them is presumptuous.

Bobin’s “Looking Glass” movie is a very pedestrian, heavy-handed and frankly boring tale that  Linda Woolverton (responsible for the screenplay) has managed to put together for the sake of a sequel to Burton’s “Alice”, which was more or less OK (I was not ecstatic with that version either!). Take an unexciting script, add actors who are in it for the paycheck and seemingly take no pleasure in the movie, add lots of special effects and CGI (some of it of rather poor quality and into which the live actors are placed and look like fish out of water), and you have a movie that is quite laboured and tiresome. The main theme of this movie is time and unfortunately by watching it, I felt as though I had wasted lots of time – 1 hour and 53 minutes of it in fact…

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this film is a waste of time.

    Good review.

    - Zach