Thursday, January 26, 2012


ALICE IN WONDERLAND has been adapted into so many different films, it’s hard to keep track of which version makes her a prostitute and which one makes the mad hatter a black woman. But no matter how many times people re-imagine the story to make it unnecessarily hip, the dream logic and peculiarity of the source material always gives it something to latch on to. This early silent film is no different. For a good fifteen hallucinatory minutes, Alice wanders through Wonderland and meets a few of the classic characters. What makes this adaptation so special is the ingenuity involved in using turn-of-the-century technology to create fantastical creatures.

Take the White Rabbit, for example. Hes a guy in a suit, not unlike the Donnie Darko rabbit, or that serial killer I dreamed about last Tuesday.

Then we have a scene where Alice changes sizes and finds a series of increasingly tiny doors that she will have to squeeze through. No computer technology here. Just a curtain.

And the magically disappearing, reappearing Cheshire Cat… hes a real cat sitting on a branch. Who disappears. They paid their animal starts a lot of money back then.

If the scene involves too many special effects, the filmmakers just use a title card. If only Lord of the Rings did that. The entire trilogy would have been twenty minutes long.

My favorite scene in the whole film is the end, when all of Wonderland goes insane and chases after Alice. As you can see, dozens of people are dressed like cards and chase Alice until she reawakens in a park. See? That’s all you need to make a good Alice in Wonderland. Take a note, Tim Burton.

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