Alice in Wrongland

I know films don’t set out to replicate books exactly – they are different media. But surely it is a requirement that if you are going to use the same title as a book, then you need to do more than use the same characters and set pieces.

Lewis Carroll’s book was a brilliantly original and amusing but donnish look at some of the conundrums of language, logic, epistemology and philosophy, set out to entertain young children. Alice’s voyage is one of inquiry. She reaches the end of the book with new wisdom.

Burton’s film is a fast-moving colourful adventure in an absolutely standard cookie-cutter mould of “Alice sets out to rescue the world from the mad emperor.” She reaches the end of the film with eventual triumph,having “restored order” in Wonderland, and as an afterthought, having turned into a feisty young woman who won’t marry the rich young idiot, and goes off to conquer the “real” world.

Some have said it’s not so much an “overcoming the evil empire” film as a post-feminist story. Maybe – at least she doesn’t settle for a life of tea parties and embroidery – but the film still supplies a nice, familiar, imperialist/colonialist conclusion.

There’s not a lot of Wondering in Burton’s Blunderland. It’s not just a film adaptation – it’s an entirely different story.


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