Tim Burton’s 3D “Alice in Wonderland” extravaganza comes out this week, so it’s a good time to take a look at Alice’s many cinematic trips to Wonderland and of course Through the Looking Glass as Well. Burton’s film combines elements of both.
Alice in Wonderland began with a real Alice. Her name was Alice Liddell, the daughter of a clergyman. Oxford mathematics professor Charles Dodgson told Alice and her sisters a story to entertain them on an outing. It was published in 1865 as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. As a mathematician, there are many puzzles in the book, which is structured around a deck of cards, and in its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, structured around a chess board. The books also have a number of word puzzles and references to people Dodgson and the Liddell family knew and to the culture of the time, like the parodies of popular poems. It has remained one of the most popular and influential books for children and their families ever since. And as soon as the movies began, versions of Alice’s story began to appear on screen, starting in 1903 and including Disney’s popular animated musical version in 1951. It is certain that Burton’s version will not be the last.
A new DVD called “Alice in Wonderland: Classic Film Collection” includes several Alice movies including a silent live-action film from 1915 and two of Walt Disney’s earliest films, an ambitious combination of live-action (four-year-old Virginia Davis as Alice) and animation (just about everything else) called Alice’s Adventures in Cartoonland, produced in 1935. It also has “Alice of Wonderland in Paris,” an animated film featuring the voice of Carl Reiner, and the terrific 1972 British live-action theatrical release starring future Phantom Michael Crawford, Peter Sellers, and Dudley Moore.
I have one copy to give away to the first person who sends me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Alice” in the subject line and tell me your favorite wonderland character!