Disney’s Alice in Wonderland opened over the weekend and has already attracted a tremendous buzz of interest among moviegoers and fans of the classic tale. In it’s first weekend, Alice in Wonderland brought in $116 million (which even Disney execs were expecting), topped the opening weekend of Avatar! Yet, for all the hype around the film, there are a few things that audiences might want to know before heading out to see the extravaganza.
First, and this is key- the film is not an attempt at remaking the original tale, or any of the various film versions to date. The plot is based on an imaginative new screenplay written by Linda Woolverton, which is based on the idea of Alice’s return to Wonderland, where she must confront the red queen (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and restore tranquility for all of the beloved characters known from the books.
This is not to say that Burton completely ignores the work of the original author, Lewis Carroll. Considerable research into the classic texts and original illustrations was key to understanding the characters. However, as Burton felt dissatisfied with the earlier films, he decided to strike out in a different direction. Burton also felt that simply remaking the original tale of “Through the Looking Glass” would “infuriate the purists”. He also wanted to remake the central character, Alice, in his vision. By beginning the film with an older Alice, Burton was able to give the character more fibre and greater resilience.
The other classic characters are all here as well. From the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp, to the Cheshire Cat and the unloveable Tweedledum and Tweedledee. And many of the characters are either digitally enhanced in various ways, or consist entirely of computer animation, like the March Hare and the Dormouse. New characters appear as well, such as the ethereal White Queen, played by Anne Hathaway, sister to the villainous Red Queen.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the film is Alice herself, played by Australian actress Mia Wasikowska, a little known quantity. Chosen because of her “emotional toughness”, she portrays Alice as a young woman, on the cusp of making important decisions concerning her future.
Undeniably, the film is a visual masterpiece of computer imagery and live action, which allowed Burton the freedom to develop characters in unusual ways and manipulate the actors to his vision. Despite a heavy pricetag into the millions for the visual effects, the film is sure to wow audiences with its spectacular sweep.