Who The Hell Is Alice?

It has been a weird day.

The new job started and it isn’t what I thought it would be. I am not even sure what I expected it to be. Myeh.

But the evening… now the evening got interesting… I agreed to meet a friend for a bit. And then because we wanted a sandwich and there was none at his place, we decided to go to his friend’s place. Which was indoors of this road and then beyond and beyond and beyond, till we crossed to the lands never crossed.

It was a dark place, with a lot of gardens… and we slowly trawled over and met a girl. She was pretty and she was laughing… and we realised “hey this was whom we came to meet” and off we went with Alice to meet other friends of hers and ours.

As the rabbit went down the hole, we wondered for a moment what we were doing. There were numerous twists and turns and it was absolutely silent. But Alice chattered with the rabbit and led us down the hallway. I wondered what was beyond that door and looked to my friend if he found it equally weird. But apparently he had met Alice in another world, so he was comfortable.

Finally the door opened to Bluebeard’s cave… and there were two people sitting there in semi-darkness. And there was the Cheshire Cat too, who was much thinner and wanted to run. A sandwich was waiting and someone unwrapped it even as we entered the place. I thought we would leave soon… but we hung around, chatted more and made a couple of more sandwiches.

There were lanes visible, connecting pockets of darkness. Lights bobbled here and there, creatures wandering around in the moonless night. Suddenly the rabbit jumped. “I have to go” he said and rabbited. Stupid rabbits.

“There is yet another lair. Come into my parlor” the spider said to the flies.

The parlor was dark, with red lights twinkling in the ceiling. Blue walls, pretty paintings and a dream bed with all that a dream room was made of. Bags were hung on the wall and there was the dull throb of a computer, pulsing its light in rhythm to the music.

We ate sandwiches… and I stared at the wall. Alice started to dance around, with beautiful precision and a hoop around her waist. I watched fascinated and wondered if I could do it. The music pulsed. People were silent. The blue wall triggered waves of  memories… the faces in the room nearly merged into others others.

The clock is about to strike 12, I told my friend. We rushed out… wandering around the maze, trying to the passage back to the place we were before. And we knew once we came out of here, there was yet another maze.

Slowly the light shone and we emerged into the world… the wind ruffled my hair and chapped my lips. Alice was a distant memory and there were other images sparkling in my head. The music continue to pulse in my head… black, grey with golden lights. And I danced… danced to the lights in my head.

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Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

My first question was what would’ve Lewis Carroll have made of this movie?

My friend claims he would’ve loved it. “Carroll was tripping on acid when he wrote this” were his exact words. Perhaps so… but was this the colors and the vividness that he imagined? Did he want the subtle chemistry between the hatter and Alice?

There seem to be a rage of movies these days that are loosely based on classics – they adopt the name of the popular character, some of the plot and weave their own story for the rest. Sherlock Holmes was one such – and it wasn’t such a disappointment, and very Guy Ritchie. And Alice joins that line… and I can say very Tim Horton.

Of course, the Wonderland has glimpses of Avatar (but I say from now any tropical forest would look like Avatar). And Alice, the one who is overland is a little… lackluster. Awkward, like a fish out of water.

So she follows a rabbit down the hole, grows a little big and then a little small and finally manages to get herself across the little door, where we find out that this is indeed a bees saal baad story.

Why Horton didn’t go with the little girl… well…

So there is the caterpillar with his twisted words and “almost” statements. The Tweedle brothers, who are quite adorable actually. And the rabbit ofcourse. And the Cheshire cat.

The cat’s good. Really good. I never liked Cheshire cat. I don’t like cats. And he is as catty as they get. And there are the beasts and Alice needs to kill the Jabberwocky.

Now, from here, I need to go back and read the book… because I figure it slowly diverges.

The cat leads Alice to the Hatter, where there is a mad party going on. And Depp is perfectly suited to play the mad hatter. But he isn’t really mad, only a little sad, unless you are saying ‘mad’ as in being a little angry. So he manages to sneak Alice away, gets caught and soft-hearted Alice goes after him into the Red Queen’s palace.

Oh I wish they really had an elaborate scene of the flamingoes and the croquet!!! That was my favorite scene in the book… with the flamingoes and the hedgehogs and the little illustrations the book came with.

Helena Bonham Carter (of the Harry Potter fame) truly shines as the Red Queen. Her voice and expressions seem so natural, particularly in contrast with all the heightened things around her. Or even on her. And the White Queen – Anne Hathaway  – seems quite pale and boring. She does this stupid thing with her hands… reminds me of actresses from the 60s doing this weird dance.

No, the story of Alice in Wonderland isn’t so spectacularly strong or new. Good fights bad. Alice has to kill the ‘jabber-baby-wocky’ and defeat the Red Queen. She struggles with her conscience and the concept of ‘killing’ and all that stuff and then she figures yes yes it is the right thing to do. I wish Hollywood had a little more creativity sometimes… or just let go of the whole pseudo-conscience thing.

But the way in which they designed the concept is refreshing. And fun. It is a visual treat and as long as you can regard it as just that, it is so worth a watch.

And yeah, do not  compare it to Avatar or any of those movies.

Because Disney got it right a long time ago. Disney’s always cute.