Sunday, April 4, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Last week Queens of Vintage wrote an article about fashion in the various adaptations of Alice and with this and the other focus placed upon Lewis Carroll, I can't help but think that one adaptation has been forgotten.
Jonathan Miller made a version in 1966 for the BBC and it is probably the closet to the original book that has ever been filmed. It's also my favourite.
This Alice is an eccentric combination of the Pre-Raphaelites, Victorian photography and just a bit of Sixties weirdness that is also the most aesthetically faithful to the text. It keeps with Carroll's unique strangeness and also the dreamlike state that Alice feels and the relationship of children within a confusing and disinterested world of adults. This is also the only Alice set within the correct Victorian society of children being seen and not heard (Alice only speaks when she is spoken to, the rest is an inner voice over). Alice is also mostly expressionless throughout the film, but this only adds to her feeling of alienation from the adult world and adds to the film as being from that of the child's view and being naturally critical of the illogical world of grown-ups.
Rather then having any special effects, Alice's growing/shrinking is shown through smaller furniture and a wide variety of lenses and angles which makes it more believable. In keeping with the Victorian context of the novel, the costumes are all period and Alice looks far closer to the original illustrations then the Disney versions of the blue dress, pinafore and Mary Janes. Here, Alice wears heavy, pouffy dresses, high-buttoned boots and her original wild hair and the occasional boater.
Also, rather then have actors covered in fur and whiskers portraying the characters, we have the actors as humans but with animalistic characteristics, which makes much more sense. And there isn't any combining of Wonderland with Through the Looking Glass, so there is no White Knight or Tweedle-Dee and the Queen of Hearts is herself and not a cross with the Red Queen (I don't know about you, but I've always found combining the Queens to be rather confusing).
Adding to the slightly Gothic Victorian setting is a soundtrack by Ravi Shankar, which is rather haunting at times.
Peter Sellers plays a dotty King of Hearts, Peter Cook is the Hatter, Alan Bennett is Mouse, Sir John Gielgud is the Mock Turtle and Wilfrid Brambell (Paul's clean grandfather in A Hard Day's Night) is the White Rabbit.
It's available on DVD in all regions and I urge you to see it at least once, but twice is better.
A word of warning: this is not a film for children who only know Alice from the Disney movie. This is a film for children who have read the actual novel, otherwise they wont understand it.

The tea party:

What is your favourite adaptation of Alice or do you feel that the novels should be read and not seen?

No comments: