Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wondering about the Wonderland

In my extensive research (and you know what I mean by extensive, coughwikipediacough!) I learned that the children's books off of which Alice in Wonderland was based were a collection of stories originally told to a family of three young sisters by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a clergyman at Christ Church in Oxford. (My friend Kylene says this is the same church where many of the Harry Potter films were shot. How cool is that?) The middle sister, Alice, was Dodgson's favorite, which is why she had the honor of bearing the name of the main character in the books.

I also learned that Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll) claimed that he did not intend any deeper interpretation for the characters or events in the books. Some of them were inspired by real life people or stories, but they are not meant to represent a larger truth or anything like that. The books fall under a genre actually called "literary nonsense." Like that's even a real genre.

Still, many people have tried to make meaning out of them. I suppose people like doing that to stuff written by people no longer living. They're not around to correct or affirm their theories, so they can say whatever they want. Isn't that what English majors do? Just kidding! Please. I have the utmost respect for people who read and write well. I try to be like you, but alas, I am just a humble Disnerd.

So here are some of my own musings on a few of elements of the story I found interesting. Take it or leave it; these are just my opinions and there is no correct answer!

(c) Disney
White Rabbit
The White Rabbit is one of the only characters other than Alice who appears in multiple scenes. His famous exclamation, "I'm late! I'm late!" cleverly produces in audiences a feeling of anticipation throughout the film. Although the White Rabbit is not particularly friendly or warm, he does seem the most sane out of everyone in the story, which makes his presence somewhat comforting. And perhaps not on purpose, he acts as a guide to Alice as she wanders through the Wonderland.

is it me or does the mushroom look an awful lot like pie? yumm, pie. (c) Disney
Potion, Mushrooms & Cookies
Correct me if I'm wrong, but everything Alice ingests during the whole movie either makes her grow or shrink. You'd think she would have learned after the second time. The thought of this happening in real life is both amusing and frightening. The scene where she grows big and is bursting out of the White Rabbit's house is particularly scary to me. I am not really sure what is meant by all of the shrinking and growing. Perhaps there could be a comparison to the influence of drugs and 'heightened' awareness?
Queen of Hearts - scary or ridiculous? (c) Disney
Queen of Hearts
I can't not comment on the villain. While her screen time is brief, the Queen of Hearts certainly makes a lasting impression. In contrast with the controlled and quiet anger of the last villain (Cinderella's wicked Stepmother), the Queen is an unabashed tyrant. I get the impression though, that she's not very bright. I find her less threatening than villains who have more cunning wit than she does. The Queen appears angry and violent, but with no real plan of world domination, like many other villains. During Alice's "trial", the Queen goes along with whatever the King says, and is easily swayed by the Cheshire Cat's prodding. I suppose there is something dangerous about someone who is so easily unwound. Still, I find myself mostly bemused when it comes to the Queen of Hearts.

Giving oneself good advice and seldom following it
Alice says a few times in the movie that she often gives herself good advice, but seldom follows it. Hah. I think she's supposed to be like 10 years old, but she acts more like a teenager when she mopes about how horrible her life is, both at the beginning before entering the wonderland, and later on when she realizes the wonderland pretty much sucks. I guess I'm reminded of myself too, and the human race. Someone else said it pretty well:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Yup, that's from the Bible, people. Romans 7, in fact.

So there you have it. I guess I was in a loopy mood for this post. Ah well, a loopy post for a loopy movie!

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