Friday, 26 June 2009

ALICE IN BURTONLAND

When Walt Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland, was first released in 1951, the film critics in Alice's homeland gave it a pretty hostile reception.

How times have changed!

Fifty-eight years on, the British press are enthusiastically greeting the early press releases and photos from Disney's latest foray into Lewis Carroll's nonsense realm with Hollywood's resident enfant terrible (though he's hardly an enfant any more), Tim Burton as tour guide.

Of course, unlike Walt and his 'fifties artists and story men who attempted to follow the Carroll text while giving it Disney-appeal, Burton - aided and abetted by screenwriter Linda Woolverton (who penned the scripts for Disney's animated features Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Mulan) and, naturally, his joined-at-the-hip composer Danny Elfman - are using the original as an inspiration for what probably ought to be called Alice's NEW Adventures in Wonderland.

The premise is that Alice (now aged 17) revisits the dreamworld of topsy-turvydom where she find that she is not the only one who has changed during the years since her last excursion...

Anyone familiar with the look of such previous Burton films as Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, most recently, Sweeney Todd, will not be phased at the brooding, gothicky settings depicted in the artwork which has gone on show...

Inspirational artwork

Alice and the Tweedle Twins

Alice and the White Rabbit

Garden of Live Flowers
Click on images to go to my flickr album for the option to view at a larger size

As for the cast, there are some predictable presences notably Burton's leading leading man, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter - and judging by the eye make-up that is even more excessive than Jack Sparrow's - mad certainly seems to be the word...

The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp)

Nice liquorice All-Sorts bow tie, though...

Burton's real life leading-lady, Helena Bonham Carter appear (despite the accompanying heart motif) as The Red Queen, who seems to be a cross between the strict-but-benign Looking-glass monarch and Wonderland's blood-thirsty despot, the Queen of Hearts, resulting in a somewhat pinker version of the Wicked Witch of the West...

The Red Queen (Helana Bonham Carter)

Maybe the taste for butchery that she picked up in Mrs Lovett's pie shop has equipped her for all those essential beheadings...

Other players who have been shown in costume include Anne (The Princess Diaries) Hathaway as Glinda the Good --- sorry! The White Queen...

The White Queen (Anne Hathaway)

And Little Britain's Matt Lucas is doubling-up as Tweedledum and Tweedledee...

Tweedledum & Tweedledee (Matt Lucas)

It is pretty much de rigueur that every Alice-in-Wonderland has to be played by an actress who has been selected after a long, world-wide search that is the casting office's equivalent of the Quest for Holy Grail. In her latest incarnation she is portrayed by (if the picture is to be believed) a very small Mia Wasikowska, who comes from Australia or, as Alice once said, the "Antipathies"...

Alice (Mia Wasikowska)

Yet to be revealed are the likenesses of the ubiquitous Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit (Brian Clough via David Frost and Tony Blair out of Kenneth Williams? Yes, I can, sort of, imagine that) and Alan Rickman (last seen chewing the scenery as Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd) as the Caterpillar that, despite the passage of time, seems to have avoided turning into a butterfly.

Then there's the newly elevated Sir Christopher Lee to look forward to as he comes whiffling through the Tulgey Wood as the Jabberwock - will he, I wonder, be sporting even longer fangs than those he used to bare as D******?

And it might also be fun to watch the omnipresent Stephen Fry in his feline persona as the Cheshire Cat disappearing - momentarily at least - from sight!

However, we've got to contain our enthusiasm - or, as the case may be, our skepticism - for over nine months until 5 March 2010, when the film opens. In the meanwhile, you can visit the official website and, by clicking on the price-tag attached to the Hatter's topper, you can register for updates...

Website image II

There's a lot more Burton-Alice news, gossip and some additional pix to be found on Tim Burton Collective News.

Images uploaded via flickr.

And my thanks to Good Dog for the heads-up (as opposed to the heads-off) on this fascinating farago...

10 comments:

SharonM said...

Oh Yuck - I never thought I'd see the day when Johnny D looked hideous - till now.

Given that I'm fairly Alice phobic anyway, don't think I'll be going to see it.

Anyway, I'll probably be using my 'Arts' budget to go and see more National Theatre productions broadcast live in my home town.

scb said...

Is this supposed to be intended as fare for children? Because this 52-year-old child might just have nightmares after having viewed just that one picture of that bobble-head doll version of a Queen of Hearts. Shudder. (Given the top-heavy appearance of said Queen, I would think that shouting "Off with their heads" might actually cause her head to roll...off her shoulders.

I'll stick to the book, with the original illustrations. I like that Mad Hatter quite well in that, and the Queen's all right, too.

... beware the Jabberwock, my son, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch...

CATTE -- must be some relation to the Cheshire Cat, who is fairly snobbish, and refuses to spell its name simply as CAT.

Brian Sibley said...

SHARON - As an Alicephobe I can imagine your feelings: so you'd probably be better off saving your pennies for a few DRINK ME bottles!

SCB - It won't be the first nightmare interpretation of Lewis Carroll's dreamchild either in still or moving pictures, but - whatever we might think at first glance - it will, undoubtedly be provocative. I've never seen a Burton film that didn't permanently sear half a dozen unforgettable images onto my memory cells...

Andrew Glazebrook said...

I hate all thing Alice in Wonderland, especially Disney's dreadful film, this is one Tim Burton film I'll be glad to miss !!

Galen Fott said...

I'm sure you used the word "dreamchild" purposefully, as that movie is the first thing I thought of upon seeing this!

Brian Sibley said...

ANDREW - Oh, dear! Sorry! does your hatred include the original book...?

GALEN FOTT - Yes, it was deliberate usage: Lewis Carroll referred to Alice (the fictional entity and, I suspect, his muse, Alice Liddell) as a 'dreamchild' and that perception was certainly the inspiration for the very remarkable (if somewhat inaccurate) movie of the same name...

Andrew Glazebrook said...

It's just the whole bunch of characters I hate, there's nothing appealing about any of them, so I've been put off reading the book as the visuals from various sources will always influence my reading !! I'll be avoiding it !!

Brian Sibley said...

ANDREW - The book is considerably more intriguing than many of the visual representations might lead you to believe. If you ever do decide to try the original, I'd recommend reading it in the edition entitled The Annotated Alice edited by Martin Gardner and available as a Penguin paperback, which provides a helpful guide to exploring - and understanding - what is a major (and, in it's time, groundbreaking) work.

But enough! I know better than to try and force feed anyone with a book I love - it can only end in tears....!

Eliza said...

I am really looking forward to seeing this! It looks so incredibly lavish.

Brian Sibley said...

Burton, of course, does 'lavish' in a way no other director ever does. For it's look alone it wil be fascinating...