Monthly Archives: May 2012

Alice in Wonderland

1. Analysis of the book. Alice in Wonderland is a classic of English literature. Since it’s initial publication it has been a source of endless speculation as to its various interpretations, meanings, and metaphorical interpretations. Ultimately, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and a book is just a book. Regardless, the story is the nineteenth century fictinoal classic of a young girl, Alice, who finds herself in a surreal and magical world where many things are not what they seem. It is full of many magical, mystical and other worldly concepts which transport the reader to another world. It has also laid the foundation for many types of novels and fiction which were to follow. Like A Catcher in the Rye the story of Alice has been the subject of a myriad number of varied analysis.

2. Analysis of the film. Many interpretations of Alice in Wonderland have been made. They range from G rated to XXX. The main themes of the Burton film are debatable, but two seem abundantly clear: first, there is a feminist motif throughout the film which aserts a very positive, and clear statement about feminine power and gender equality (ex. The slaying of the beast by a knightly dressed Alice); Second, Alice is used as an instrument of a rebel mentality which attempts to buck the traditional, and demonstrate the fallacy of many societal conventions. Additionally, in check with typical Tim Burton style, his formal film techniques (set/costumes, cinematography, sound design, editing, etc.) rely heavily on animation, digital effects, and a number of cinemagraphic effects to sccurately portray the surreal nature of Wonderland.

3. Analysis of the adaptation. The book is not an easy one to adapt into film. Yet, film is a much less difficult medium than, for example, stage or theater. Still, the fantastical nature of the film itself proves difficult to translate into a realistic cinematic experience. Tim Burton does a fantastic job of using digital and animation to convey to a viewer an accurate sense of Wonderland, but it is still flawed. Additionally, the film fails to capture the real essence of the literary work. It is caught up in trying to convey its own interpreted meanings, and loses its appeal to one of its initially intended audiences (young children). For better or worse, he attempts to expand the tale to a more adult crowd, but comes off as slightly preachy and indolent.

4. Online research on the film.

5. Critical Analysis Paragraph. Quite a few critics and reviewers have called Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland a feminist fable. How is Burton’s film feminist? How is it not?

Tim Burton’s Alice is Wonderland is most definitely a feminist fable for several reasons: first, the way it differs from other interpretations singles it out as a feminist fable; second, Burton’s use of cinematography to impress upon the viewer her independent spirit; third, her contra-traditional spirit and role.

Tim Burton’s Alice is different from both the Disney version, and most other versions. Tim’s adaptation is more suited to preteen or young adolescent. Alice’s strength and curiosity assist her decisions to take the initiative and not conform to what others have planned for her-the scene from the engagement party-illustrates her maturity. In this version, in contrast to most others, she is a feminist dragon-slayer. The Disney versions of its characters, for example, seem more playful than the seriousness in Tim’s film. For instance, the dog (Barnyerd) is concerned about losing his wife and pups if he doesn’t find Alice.

The costumes and scene layout in Tim’s version is very dramatic and very rich in color. It is also very dark. It stands in contrast to, and highlights, the transformation of Alice. Burton’s Alice needed the more gothic inspired scenes to illustrate her curiosity and maturity. He kept the same story line but with a more grown up Alice that realizes that she is not in a Wonderland but an ‘Underland’. Tim’s movies have always had a dark, and yet, intriguing side to them. This movie was entertaining to watch.

Finally, we can see Alice mature and define her own destiny. She wanted more than to settle down and be married. Tim’s version allows her to carry on her father’s dream of business ventures. She is able to set herself apart from other women in that time period. She slays dragons. It demonstrates her contra-traditional spirit and emerging role in society.



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This blog focuses on English-language literary works adapted to film and produced after 2001.

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