Thursday, April 15, 2010

Seeing Wonderland.

"YOu UseD tO Be MuCh mORe... muchier. yOu'VE loST YouR MuCHnESS."
I finally saw Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland last night. After some considerable delay due to conflicting schedules and an absolute resolution not to see the movie with people who are obsessed with reality (to the detriment of their movie enjoyment), I finally ventured forth, solo. Much like Alice.
What I found was simply, well, WONDERful.

Life parallels notwithstanding (Alice, too, is searching for herself), I thought it was brilliant. What a magnificent re-introduction into Lewis Carroll's flash-bang, winder-wonder-world.

The costumes certainly didn't hurt.
Colleen Atwood is nothing short of genius, and after costuming movies like Edward Scissorhands, Nine, Public Enemy, Sweeney Todd, Big Fish, and Memoirs of a Geisha, she's certainly continued flaunting her understanding of period clothes, haute couture, and the fine line between the two. (I want all of Alice's dresses. It's impossible to choose. Perhaps one day when I'm rich and famous, I'll throw a costume party and have 7 costume changes...I wonder if someone makes Jabberwocky-repellant armor on commission...?)

The settings didn't hurt, either.
Simply sublime. And the post-destruction world provided the perfect tinge of dark and sad that makes Tim Burton's work really shine.
But what I really loved about this movie (and most Burton projects) is that when you emerge,
you carry a conviction that to be a little cock-eyed, a little different, a little... mad... is the only way to be.
Because reality, really, is entirely too unchallenging.
"You're mad. Bonkers. Off your head. But I'll tell you a secret: All the best people are."

What's more, if you're unable to see the wonder around you, you're incomplete in Wonderland. While Alice tries to convince herself she's dreaming, the other denizens tell her she's got it all wrong. And to lose your eyes in Wonderland is a travesty. The Doormouse steals the Bandersnatch's eye, and he loses his strength, turning in on himself in a brooding anger. When Alice restores his eye, she makes a friend.
The Hatter pricks the already one-eyed Knave of Hearts in the eye with his hat pin, and the Knave is undone. The Knave's joy in the wonder of Wonderland has already been compromised by having only one eye. Losing the other would separate him from the wonder altogether. There's an importance equated with the eyes, with being able to see the Wonder-ful things around you, to see the world as recognizable and also perpetually unrecognizable. Therein lies the magic.
So, life isn't always easy.
Sometimes you have to find who you are.
Sometimes you need to look again before you can see what something really is.
Sometimes you have to convince others, and sometimes you have to trust them.
And sometimes, you just have to suit up and slay the Jabberwocky.

"This is impossible."
"Only if you believe it is..."

photos: stills from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, sketches by Colleen Atwood. Fashion photos from movie publicity and Vanity Fair shoot.

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