Alice in Movieland
So should a die-hard Alice fan like me go see the new Tim Burton movie? My three usual papers disagree: it was reasonably well-reviewed in the Globe, not so well in the Times, and rather badly in the Guardian. I glean from these reviews that its premise is that an older Alice, a young woman, retreats back into Wonderland during a rough patch and finds that it’s deteriorated. The premise reminds me of the video game American McGee’s Alice (which I’ve played, but never entirely finished), which posits an Alice whose family has been killed, is committed to a psych hospital, and retreats into Wonderland to confront her Cheshire Cat–, Jabberwocky– and Red Queen– shaped demons in a Wonderland gone bad. Instead of the usual “health metre,” Alice has a “sanity metre.”
Now, I fully expect movies like the new Alice to take gigantic liberties with the original story, and world, and characters. This happens even with contemporary novels adapted to screen. You just can’t fit a novel into a movie. Some changes are, though, pretty dodgy. I don’t think I ever got over the Kenneth Branagh version of Frankenstein (dubiously titled Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), in which the good bad doctor actually does go ahead and animate the monster’s consort. Anyone who has actually read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will know that this changes everything. At the time this movie came out (a long, long time ago), I was working in a bookstore and noted that we were displaying a novelization of the movie. What, one of the classic works of English literature wasn’t good enough? The movie had to rewrite the novel, too? Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein indeed.
Anyway, if the new Alice is just going to cause me to rant like I just did, perhaps it’s best that I don’t see it. For now. I know I will eventually, because I can’t resist anything Alice. I’ve been considering an Alice-themed tattoo for a long while; I have two Alice coffee cups on my desk; I’ve been to the Alice Shop in Oxford, across the street from Christchurch, not once, but twice. In fact, Alice is what started me writing when, in grade three, I accidentally memorized “Jabberwocky” just by having read it so many times, and realized that there was something in this poetry thing. (I can also recite it in French.)
Yes, I’ll see it, but I’m not getting a babysitter for it. There. I’ve said it. It’s just going to have to wait for DVD.