Saturday, March 6, 2010

Adventures in Wonderland

Like millions of people, I went to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland yesterday. Lewis Carroll fashioned an enduring character who seems to represent, in her dreamy blue, a sort of blank slate for our dreaming unconscious.

That gorgeous 1903 Alice digitized by the British Film Institute was making the rounds this past week. Isn't THAT experience the very best of the Internet? It makes me giddy, a sort of twenty-first century equivalent of the museum sickness from E.M. Forster or Daisy Miller. Of the two, it's my favorite.

Burton's version of Through the Looking Glass tells us much about our own time. There is more than a whiff of the abstinence allegory (um, Twilight?) and I think the digitized leaping and slaying beasties were appropriated from Avatar along with the 3D cameras. Burton's affection for collaborators Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are palpable, and he brings out their best,  but the decision to portray Alice as almost twenty yet still in short skirts is as truculent as this incarnation of her manages. The final note is a confused combination of simultaneously feminist, colonial, militaristic and capitalistic. As perhaps befits our collective unconscious.

I expect to see the Alice influence in prom dresses and also predict a sudden trend for tying ribbons on your upper arm, slave-bracelet style.

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