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Alice in Wonderland Assignment

1.    Lewis Carroll’s novel, Adventures of Alice in Wonderland , written and published in the mid-1800’s is a story whose narrative, despite being thematically subjective, surrounds a young girl who finds herself awake in a world that would seem better suited to those asleep. Disregarding interpretations not directly visited by Carroll himself, Wonderland, the world that Alice literally falls into is a realm built on the logic of a dream where wordplay reigns supreme and reality is intertwined with feverish imagination. Carroll’s original story is markedly different in some respects from the more recent Disney adaptation in the 1950’s in that the book contains a degree of darkness mingled with madness that would be difficult to achieve in a film that is predominately directed toward a younger audience. However, even those who have not read the novel are mostly familiar with Carroll’s original characters that remain largely intact throughout most interpretations as well as the themes of dreaming, maturation or loss of innocence, existence as a puzzle or riddle, and madness itself.

2.    Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s original book, titled Alice in Wonderland, employs Burton’s own personal brand of cinematography to achieve the unique thematic elements of the book. Burton, known for his directing style that mixes the dark and the surreal, utilizes visually dark (if not overtly colorful) set-pieces to represent “Underland” (Wonderland), and takes certain creative liberties in creating the characters that populate this world. The music in the film is not overemphasized and instead works to bolster Burton’s quirky script that is heavy with wordplay and mostly subtle humor.

3.    Tim Burton’s success in adapting Lewis Carroll’s work to his own design is debated among critics but from my perspective, Burton succeeded in some respects but faltered in others. According to some, Burton succeeded in achieving a fantastical tone to Wonderland, but unfortunately made this tone too established and neglected to add a degree of reality intertwined with the madness. The film had a focus on action where the book itself had very little, and failed to differentiate itself from many other Disney films which rely heavily on visual stimulation rather than the mental stimulation found in the book. Overall, Burton kept most of the characters in place as well as a hint of Carroll’s mad narrative, but could not capture the spirit of ambiguity between fantasy and reality that made Adventures of Alice in Wonderland so unique.



A.http://www.boxofficeprophets.com/column/index.cfm?columnID=12642: An in-depth comparison between Lewis Carroll’s original novel and Tim Burton’s adaptation

B.http://designingsound.org/2010/03/the-sound-of-alice-in-wonderland/: An interview with Steve Boeddeker, the sound designer and supervisor for the film that explores his     motivation and strategies for the film’s soundtrack and sound design.

C.http://www.genderacrossborders.com/2010/03/21/tim-burtons-alice-in-wonderland-is-almost-a-great-  feminist-fairytale/: A critical analysis of the film from a site that explores gender roles and themes in   multiple forms of media.


A: This article, taken from boxofficeprophets.com, gave invaluable insight into the similarities and differences between Lewis Carroll’s original story and Tom Burton’s live-action film adaptation. Whether or not you’ve read the book recently, this article does an excellent job in relaying the obvious links and disparities between the two mediums as well as introducing new ideas that are a bit more in-depth in the realms of theme, plot, and character motivations. Overall, this 3-page article written by Russ Bickerstaff is an excellent supplement to viewing the film and allows you to see Burton’s interpretations alongside Carroll’s story without having to go back and re-read the entire book.


5.    Is Burton’s Alice an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s book, or could it more properly be understood as a reboot of the Alice franchise, as it introduces new story lines and characters? So then what is the difference between an adaptation and a reboot in the case of this film?

Tim Burton’s film Alice in Wonderland serves a curious role with regard to Lewis Carroll’s original book. While most of the characters remain the same as well as Wonderland itself with its many settings, Burton does take creative liberties in his sculpting of Carroll’s narrative. Some critics wish to call Burton’s film adaptation a “reboot” of the original story due to the introduction of new characters such as Leo Bill, Alice’s fiancé but I would suggest instead that Burton’s film be viewed as a sort of sequel or continuation to Carroll’s Adventures of Alice in Wonderland being that she is now an adult. In fact, as suggested by Russ Bickerstaff in his article comparing the two versions, the film could be seen more as a reboot of the book’s sequel Through the Looking Glass in which Alice revisits Wonderland as an adult. In most cases, a reboot is a re-envisioned version of a story which keeps certain aspects of the original intact such as characters, themes, and plot while putting their own unique “spin” on their portrayal. In the case of Burton’s Alice, the same cast of characters taking part in a completely fresh plot sounds more reminiscent of a sequel than a reboot.  


One comment on “Alice in Wonderland Assignment

  1. Ryan, your analysis of the book, the film, and the adaptation were good, as were the online research links. Remember, though, that your critical analysis argument paragraph needs to be a self-contained argument beginning with a thesis statement, rather than just a response to a critical analysis prompt. 9/10. Joseph Byrne

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