At The Movies 03.05.10
This is Ron Salfen, “At The
Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film opening today at The
Majestic Theater in
Tim Burton’s treatment of “Alice
In Wonderland” is just as whimsical as you’d expect, with his trademark
dark humor accompanying it, and with the CGI of Wonderland thrown with 3-D,
it’s a feast for the eyes, as well.
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is an
intelligent and beautiful young English woman, sometime in the Victorian
Era, who is being taken for a ride by horse and carriage by her overbearing
mother to an engagement party in the country---her own.
It seems one of the local lords wishes to ask for her hand in
marriage, at his baronial estate, in the company of his family and his
friends in the nobility. But
none of this impresses Alice, who, we learn quickly, thinks for herself.
(“Why should I wear a corset because everyone else does?
If everyone else wore a fish on their head, would I be expected to do
that, also?”) But her
distraught Mother sees this pre-arranged betrothal as an opportunity for her
daughter’s social advancement (not to mention her own).
Alas, the nobility may indeed be manor-born, but that doesn’t make
finds herself shuddering at the prospect at being married to this smarmy,
pompous, sniveling, unimaginative aristocrat.
She senses a stifling of her creativity in her future, and a betrayal
of her own blithe spirit She
literally runs away, and falls down the rabbit hole into a Wonderland that
she should have remembered, when she visited as a small girl, but doesn’t.
And everyone there has to decide if she’s the right Alice, while
she plays along with the strange characters and their portentous drama,
assuring herself that it’s all a dream.
Johnny Depp plays a great Mad Hatter,
as we would expect he would. Helena
Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway add much as the Red Queen and the White
Queen. Throw in the voices of
Alan Rickman (The Blue Caterpillar), Stephen Fry (The Cheshire Cat), and
Michael Sheen (The White Rabbit), and you have a subterranean, subconscious
odyssey well worth the ride. Of
course it’s fanciful. But
there’s a point to it all----in the course of her adventures, Alice makes
a resolution about her above-ground life, including the unwanted marriage
proposal, and all because she remembers something about herself now----that
she shares her late father’s sense of adventure, and isn’t afraid of
trying and failing. What she
would dread more is not “thinking outside the box” at all.
“Alice In Wonderland” is a great
little ride outside the box. Enjoy
it for what it is, don’t try to read too much into it (like potential
political symbolism of the characters, both in Victorian England and
today?), and don’t think too much about the original impetus of the author
(Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym for a Math professor at an obscure little
college who took an unhealthy interest in the president’s little daughter,
and wrote the two “Alice” books as an ode to her maiden loveliness?)
Instead, just put on the 3-D glasses, sit back, and marvel at how the
screen can bring imagination to life, appearing right before your wondering
This is Ron Salfen, “At The
Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM