I haven’t seen the new Alice in Wonderland yet. It’s gotten bad reviews (from both my friends and critics) and seems too cohesive to count as a Wonderland film. Burton’s choice to tackle this subject is totally obvious. From the (drug induced?) absurd dream-state, to the fantastical creatures and visuals, to the vibrant colors, and the potential for a lot of makeup, Alice in Wonderland has always seemed like a Tim Burton-esque story (even before we knew who Tim Burton was, the movie Gods prophesied such a retelling).
My favorite adaptation of the story is Jan Svankmajer’s Alice, but I can never get enough Wonderland. And wouldn’t you much rather see Alice in Wonderland told by the less obvious choices? Like, maybe…these guys??:
Lars von Trier
Poor Alice (played by Dakota Fanning). First she’s ignored by a rabbit, then she falls through a hole in the ground, then she undergoes a series of torturous changes to her body. By the time she finally starts to figure out Wonderland, she’s one hot, fucked up mess. And who’s to say that all these mental jumping jacks don’t lead to her to sleep with/get raped by the Mad Hatter (Willem Dafoe)/Red Queen (Lauren Bacall) and have to spend the rest of her life wandering around Wonderland in a state of learned helplessness?
Wonderland looks like a barren wasteland in von Trier’s version of the story. As in the original Louis Carroll tale, everyone regards each other with a mix of suspicion and horror. And yet Alice remains an innocent, guarded by her own sense of insanity while Wonderland continually victimizes her.
Lots of cuts, lots of swears, lots of blood. I would definitely go see von Trier’s Alice in Wonderland the day it came out.
In Coppola’s version of the story, Alice (played by Alison Lohman) is in her mid-twenties, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. She knows it’s got to be something important, but she’s just come to discover that she has no marketable or useful skills.
In the midst of her crisis of post-teen faith, Alice escapes from her ridiculously ornate mansion only to fall into a ridiculously ornate world: full of flowers, and sunshine, and beautiful clothes, and food food FOOD! Alice gorges on Wonderland, having philosophical, yet flippant, discussions with the woodland creatures she encounters. Her favorite, of course, is the Caterpillar (Bill Murray), who she parties with until sun-up, smoking a bowl and singing some karaoke.
There’s danger when Alice initially meets the Red Queen (Katherine Keener or Diane Keaton) and she threatens to cut off Alice’s head. But the two women suddenly bond over tarts and develop a surrogate mother-daughter relationship they both need.
Alice returns home without finding any easy answers. But then, there are no easy answers in life, are there?
Wonderland is one fucked up world. And who better to portray fucked upedness than David Lynch?
Alice is played by three women in Lynch’s version: Laura Dern (duh), Maria Bello, and Princess Bunny, who speaks backwards through her entire performance.
Alice falls into a bleak, dark world filled with part-human, part-alien creatures that you can’t quite place in one species or another. Everyone seems to be into weird, kinky sex. And as Alice becomes more deeply involved in the world, she starts to take on the characteristics of those around her.
Nothing is cohesive. Each scene jumps from setting to setting without any explanation. No one knows why the Red Queen (Isabella Rossellini) wants to cut off everyone’s heads, but the threat is very real. The soundtrack is industrial and unnerving. There are reports of people getting physically ill in the theaters, but no one can really pinpoint the source of their queasiness.
Gus Van Sant
“Alice” is played by a young unknown male. And Wonderland is the perfect metaphor in which to uncover this boy’s deepest homosexual tendencies. Until this point in his life, Alice hasn’t had a chance to really explore who he is. Luckily, he falls into a world of magic and wonder, perfect for exploration…wink wink nudge nudge. Maybe a little rendezvous with Casey Afflect??
Lots of kissing, lots of love, lots of shower scenes. Van Sant’s Wonderland is a surreal and beautiful place where anything goes.
Unfortunately, Alice has to return to the real world someday. And you can count on a shocking jolt of violent realism from the director of Elephant, Gerry, and Paranoid Park.
Or maybe he’ll go with the commercial approach and find a way to fit Sean Connery and “You’re the Man Now, Dawg!” into the story. Let’s hope so!