The Alice in Wonderland of My Dreams

In case you haven’t heard, the new, rather outlandish Tim Burton interpretation of Alice in Wonderland opened last Friday.  There is no way my girls are seeing this revamped edition, they can barely make it through the old Disney animated Wonderland without wetting themselves.  But, I saw it in Disney 3D, and kept my pants dry.  Below are my thoughts…

Burton’s Alice is a love song to a father who inspired trailblazing and “mad” thinking in the face of a staid world of impossibilities.  I see in this modern day Alice a fierce girl who’s mind, but even more so, spirit deserves far more than a marriage of arrangement and a life of deference.  The great thing is that she knows it.  Alice, played beautifully by Mia Wasikowska, is clearly more at home in Wonderland than in the land of corsets and ‘what’s expected’s’.  I feel likewise, despite never being coerced into wearing a corset (I think…Mom?) and I cannot help but recall Wolf Parade’s “Modern World” whose “I’m not in love with the modern world / I was a torch driving the savages back to the trees…modern world i’m not pleased to meet you / You just bring me down” lyrics feel more than at home here.

Being a Tim Burton production, the new Wonderland is a darker, more sinister place.  As much was to be expected, after all, from the polarizing director.  There’s the far less adorable, red metallic playing card palace guards under the watchful command of a brutal off-with-their-head Red Queen, a ferocious, evil Jabberwocky and the stampeding Bandersnatch.  Despite the ramped up scary-stuff, I can easily see Alice in Wonderland being enjoyed by younger kids, mine excluded of course.  I’m talking ages 4-5 and up, as long as they can handle some minor violence and a bit of danger, nothing more extreme than the scenes of peril in similar kid’s films.  Frankly, I think the next door neighbor in Toy Story is more frightening, in his realism.  The badness in Alice in Wonderland may just be ridiculous and ‘beyond the scope’ enough that it doesn’t faze a child nearly as much.

To boil the 100-minute film into a sentence – it’s all about the strength of Alice.  Maybe I want so badly to see a female lead character exhibit independence, stubbornness and curiosity, traits I’d love for my daughters to possess as they age, that I viewed Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland through my own warped looking glass.  But that’s what I see and that’s why you should see it.

For those kids not prepared for Burton’s visionary remake, there’s another new presentation of Alice in Wonderland available in a much smaller, non-threatening format.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Alice in Wonderland in your iPhone.  The storybook app by iStoryTime is also a lot of fun, the kind that’s more my girl’s speed.

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