A&E / Archive

Wandering in Wonderland

Audiences were invited to a very important date on March 5: The day when the story of “Alice in Wonderland” would be magically retold in theaters around the world.

The new Disney movie, directed by Tim Burton, is a wonderful interpretation and compilation of both “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and its sequel, “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There,” by Lewis Carroll.

The movie’s plot was based on an inspired interpretation of the Jabberwocky poem, found in “Through the Looking Glass.”

Written in portmanteau (a style that blends two words together to make an undefined yet understood word), the poem’s gibberish words manage to convey a clear premise: the Jabberwocky is a terrible monster that must be destroyed.

In the 1951 Disney version of “Alice in Wonderland,” the Cheshire Cat sings the infamous poem when he first appears to Alice.

Deriving the characters from their dual literary forms, the 2010 version gives fresh and exciting notions of the Wonderland that Carroll originally wrote about.

For instance, while the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen are in fact two very different characters, each appearing in a different book, this theatrical retelling combines them to create one major villain.

The Hatter, impressively played by Johnny Depp, also takes on somewhat of a different role this time around. In 1951, he was just a minor character, in charge of un-birthdays. Now his character serves as a confidant for Alice.

Anne Hathaway’s character, the White Queen, presents a feminist position, as she has no king or male counterpart with whom she shares power. (In contrast, the Red Queen depends on the Knave of Hearts for emotional stability.)

It is also important to notice that the movie ends with the return of Alice’s Victorian reality: A suitor waiting for her to accept his proposal for marriage. Everyone expects her to say yes, and this reality is paralleled by the expectations she encounters in Wonderland.

“This is my dream. I make the path,” Alice says after she realizes that her life is dominated by what others want her to do.

She has to decide whether she’ll succumb to the pressure of the status quo or whether she will fight the battles she chooses for herself.

It was most exciting to watch the final battle–the fight between Alice and the Jabberwocky–take place on a chess board, a central theme in “Through the Looking Glass.”

One of many references like it, the parallel was tasteful and somewhat moving.

These references were not forced on the audience, so they did not distract from the new plot, but were like catapults, continuously thrusting the story forward to a very emotionally satisfying end.

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