Looking through the rabbit’s hole

Looking through the rabbits hole

Ingrid Chang

Tim Burton’s take on "Alice in Wonderland" gives us one ride we won’t want to get off 

We all miss those childhood days when we truly enjoyed and were mesmerized by the Disneyland rides. Now with director Tim Burton’s "Alice in Wonderland", the thrill from those rides can be relived again, but this time the ride has become a lot more vibrant and intriguing— the biggest twist is that we won’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

"Alice in Wonderland", directed by Tim Burton, was released on March 5. Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is led into a rabbit's hole and arrives in Wonderland, where reality meets fantasy. Photo taken from Walt Disney Pictures.
Adapting from Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s (pseudonym Lewis Caroll) book "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland", it’s visible that director Tim Burton also took the sequel, "Through the Looking-Glass" into account when creating the movie. The mix of fiction and reality makes this film one that is almost impossible to forget. All the main characters that you remember from the Disney classic are present. The humor, creativity and suspense all serve as elements of surprise to the audience. But there’s no need to worry, though there are still some very obvious Burton-esque characteristics, including the corpse-like faces and figures, mysterious music and the intricate outfits, nothing is going to scare you for there are no such bloody and graphic darkness from Burton’s "Sweeney Todd".

Starting off the movie, 19 years-old Alice Kinsley (Mia Wasikowska), who is trying to get over her father’s death, escapes a marriage proposal and a surprise engagement party momentarily and accidentally slips into a rabbit’s hole. That’s when the adventure in Wonderland (or Underland as referred to by the characters) starts. Alice faces many conflicts;  everyone — the White rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and a smoking caterpillar (Alan Rickman) — tries to convince her to slay Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee), the Red Queen’s black monster, and save Underland.

Before the story reaches the action and the climax, many other questions that contribute to building the plot go through the audience’s heads. Is Wonderland real? This "dream" might be a reflection of her real life problems, but on the other hand, is all of this really a dream? Alice constantly questions this, too, and tries to wake up numerous times by pinching herself. But even as she realizes this may not be a dream, the audience is still skeptical about it. 


Of course we can’t forget the humor that has been dispersed throughout the movie. Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Matt Lucas), also referred to as "Fat Boys" by the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), can’t make decisions and have trouble understanding each other. They make random statements and fail to make sense of anything, and ultimately serve as comic relief. When the twins are called upon for entertainment, the Red Queen laughs at ridiculous statements and so do we. As for the Red Queen, rather than seeing her as someone completely evil who makes animals hold up furniture, the audience almost comes to an understanding with her because of her hilarity and harmless sarcastic comments.

Burton’s creativity is what ushers the movie into another realm; it gives the movie a magical touch and makes the two hours you spend sitting there fun. "Alice in Wonderland" is indeed magical and that’s the main point of the movie. Each design fits with its specific scene and the overall story, all to emphasize Burton’s eccentric art direction. The Red Queen’s distinctive red heart on the lips, huge head and blue eyeshadow are what we’ll soon know her as. Every scene that she appears in has the common color theme of red and black. Similarly, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway)’s surroundings are all in white. Mad Hatter has his own table where everything is jumbled up, hinting his "madness". His mismatched outfit and all-too-peculiar make-up further emphasize his insanity and add to his unique character.

Disney’s original "Alice in Wonderland" and Caroll’s books are far from similar to Burton’s version. Rather than being a sequel or even a remake, this newly directed movie can be even weirder than the cartoon. So avid book and cartoon fans, you might not want to watch this if you’re looking for a loyal adaptation. The movie is strange and people who are sensitive might get offended by the quirky things that Burton does. That’s how Burton’s movies are like. It is possible that this movie will ruin and destroy your version and idea of how Alice and the place of Wonderland should be but to some that may be the point of movies.

When the movie comes to an end, many aspects of the plot will slowly piece together into a well-rounded conclusion. All your questions that has to do with the plot are answered. Alice points out that everything in Underland is supposed to be impossible in real life: the talking animals and flowers, each of the Queens’ palaces and the look of Underland. As of now, even you may still not know what to believe especially with all of Burton’s enchanting scenes. Wonderland could be reality but it could also be a figment of your imagination. But one thing you know is that that was one colorful ride and it’s hard to snap out of it.