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The Borovkoff Blog

Neo-Pagan Modern Thoughts On Society

Tim Burton is a brilliant architect of the goth whimsy genre. He is a master of taking colorful and innocent child fair and throwing the dust of a grave on it and still making it work.


Few fantasy books last the test of time. Alice in Wonderland has been one of those timeless classics that everyone reads, young and old from multiple generations included. Lewis Carroll wrote the class book using words, phrases, symbolism and eloquent imagery to make fun of Victorian England while providing a thoroughly entertaining fairy tale for the youngsters that he idolized. Immortal characters like Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hair and the Queen of Hearts were created by Carroll and hurled into popular entertainment for generations to come.

Many movies, animated films and made for tv mini-series were created based on Carroll’s book and the follow-up “Through the Looking Glass.” All of them played attention to the story line and stayed with in the confines of the Carroll world down a rabbit hole. Each of the follow up version, including a 60s rock song,  tried to grab a deeper meaning and feeling from Alice and her cohorts. Each had a certain flavor that retained some of the original’s brilliance to one degree or another. Even Disney’s cartoon version had  a certain whimsical comparitability to Carroll’s masterpiece.

So when I heard that Tim Burton would take on the likes of a drug induced Wonderland, I was enthralled and could not wait until it came out on DVD, so that I could add it to the Alice library. Last night I watched the DVD and was slightly disappointed.

Tim Burton is a brilliant architect of the goth whimsy genre. He is a master of taking colorful and innocent child fair and throwing the dust of a grave on it and still making it work. And Alice is no exception. He does indeed put a certain Tim Burton feel on the film, but he ventures way too far from the original to make it one of his best films. It works but it only works in an “ok” way. It is the kind of film you can watch once, and think “oh that was nice”, put it back on the shelf and never feel you have to watch it again. For films today, the “oh that was nice” syndrome is the spell of unsuccess.

The mark of a masterpiece is that it is copied and copied and copied some more. And that each time it is copied, the new author tries to inject it with their own perspective. Tim Burton could have done this and done this well, ala The Corpse Bride, but he doesn’t. He takes the original story and mutates it into a story of Alice’s return to “Underland”. Sadly, by taking the film too far away from the original story, he loses the urgency of insanity and ridicule that made Wonderland a place full of talking flowers and fading kitty cats that was believable even when the reader wasn’t dropping acid. There is very little play on words, and by missing that critical factor one can only assume that the writers never really read the books, but only went of common myths and stereotypes of Wonderland characters. Alice in Wonderland is ABOUT words! It is about Carroll’s love of the written word and his distaste for the pompous Victorian culture that probably damaged Western Culture far worse than it helped it. This movie misses that whole point by a mile.

This version is only ok. Even Johnny Depps truly Mad Hatter cannot save the day because his character is written in too normal and too plain fashion, almost bordering on ridiculous romantic lead. Ummm, oh yeah, the Mad Hatter is every person’s version of HOT. NOT! Wrong turn Tim.

For me this movie just shows that imagination in film is rare now and this whole current phase of remaking every classic that was done before should be seriously OVER!  Thanks for the film, it will make a nice dust collector right next to the several other dumb induced and  failed Disney sequels created of late.

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