Thursday, 1 December 2016

Alice's Adventures: Carroll vs Disney


It has been awhile but here I am with another famous story and it's adaptations. This time it's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll (or Professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson if you want to name him by his real name). Many of you probably know Alice from the Disney film(s) Alice in Wonderland, either from the old animated version or the more recent live-action film (or both). I recently read the novel for one of my many essays (which is one of the reasons I have been a tat absent). That particular essay involved censorship in China, an issue I will not go into right now (though if you that are interested in it, I can tell you all about it). I will not provide you with a summary of the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, however I will point a few differences and summarise Through the Looking-Glass, because film (produced earlier this year) is not faithful to the novel. 

So the most interesting difference between the novel and newly produced live-action film starts with the tea-party. The animated Disney film actually did a pretty good job of depicting the novel. It's confusing and sad in a way, just like the novel. However, the live-action makes it friendlier. The hatter and March Hare give her riddles and stories while the Dormouse keeps falling asleep. We learn that they have a tea-party forever due to the fact that time punished them (which is brought back in the film Alice Through the Looking-Glass). They insult Alice and she becomes very frustrated. You see Alice is not making friends when she is in wonderland. The Mad-Hatter is not nice to her at all, nor are most of the other characters. They either upset her, frustrate her or even hate her. 

At the end of the novel, she is in the middle of a court hearing. She has been called up as a witness but she does not agree with how things are done in this particular court because it's so different from what it would be like in England. The Queen does not like this and tells her card-soldiers to catch her, which is when Alice wakes up and finds herself lying in her sister's lap. We are confronted (as readers) with the fact that all of it was a dream. Alice even states that herself. This is also the case in the Disney animated film but far from the case in the live-action films (or the Once Upon A Time spin-off for that matter),  in which Alice is convinced her fantasy world is real and will do absolutely anything to prove it. In both Alice Through the Looking-Glass and the Once Upon A Time spin-off, Alice ends up in an asylum because the people around her believe her to be hallucinating when it comes to her experiences/adventures.

So lets cut to Through the Looking-Glass. In the novel its just another adventure in her world that does not involve the Mad-hatter at all. She steps through the mirror and finds the chess pieces on the other side of it. After walking out of the house she comes across talking flowers, who tell her the Red Queen is in the area thus Alice goes looking for her (I don't know why, doesn't seem like someone you'd like the see). They meet and the Queen criticises her because she does not behave correctly (this happens a lot in both novels, because Carroll was obsessed with teaching children how to speak properly). They engage in a game of chess and if Alice wins she will become a Queen. After that it's a bit confusing at times, the novel has a dream-like quality at this point. A little later Alice realises that she has forgotten her own name (among other things).

After walking into the forest with a Fawn (who's memory is also failing), they soon find that their memories have come back and the Fawn runs away. This is when Alice meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee (the twins), who tell her she only exists in the Red King's dream. This upsets her and she decides the twins are talking nonsense, which causes the twins to engage in a wild discussion, which is interrupted by a giant crow who scares the twins off. This is when Alice meets the White Queen who tells her time moves backwards in this world. She then encounters a sheep in a shop, something weird happens with a boat and then she purchases an egg from the sheep which then transforms into Humpty Dumpty who sits on a wall and goes on to criticise Alice on her name. He's under the impression that he has power over words and can change their meaning. This annoys Alice and she leaves him.

Alice encounters the White King and a bunch of soldiers. She learns that there is about to be a big battle.  A red knight tries to take Alice but a white knight stops him after which the white knight and Alice engage in conversation. He promises to take her to the last square where she will become Queen. She finds herself in the company of the Red and the White Queen. They question her and soon after they vanish (too). This is when Alice encounters a huge castle marked Queen Alice. She goes through the door and starts to eat a banquet, which causes the party to devolve into chaos. This is when Alice, once again, wakes up and finds herself holding her cat.

Obviously, this is very different from the film that was produced earlier this year. In the film Alice goes back to her friends, to help the Mad-hatter (who's dying) with finding his family. She has to go to Time (a person, who is dating the Red Queen) so she can go back in time and safe the Mad-hatter's family. This causes a lot of problems (it usually does when people decide to mess with time). It is basically all about the Mad-hatter finding his family, discovering why the Red Queen is such a bitch toward everybody (and why her head is so big) and Alice improving her relationship with her mother. I honestly enjoyed the film but it was not what I was expecting. It makes the characters seem so lovely and loving. But originally the Mad-hatter is not even Alice's friend, nor is he in Through The Looking-Glass. The sad thing, though, is that because in this story line it is not a dream but a version of reality, she has to say goodbye to her friends forever (or at least that's what they think) and it's so sad!

When reading the Alice novels I realized that they really are books of nonsense. This was what Carroll intended to do with his books because he originally wrote them for his young friend (he really liked the company of girls under the age of 13.. seriously it's disturbing) Alice in 1865 (and 1871). But reading it as a grown-up in 2016, I can't help but think this would never be read by a child in present-day society because it is not easy to understand due to the use of language in the novels. If you'd like to know more about Lewis Carroll's pervert tendencies (or if you ask me rather his transgender behaviour), or about why China banned the novel in 1931 (which was quite justified if you look at China at that time) don't hesitate to ask :) See you next week!

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