Adventures…

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So, I’ve been sick this week. I woke up Saturday morning having apparently come down with the plague (also known as pneumonia). I went to the doctor on Monday and was told to stay in the bed and rest, and that I couldn’t go to work until next Monday. Under normal circumstances I would probably have read several books in that time. However, that has not been the case this week.

First of all, I’ve barely slept until today. For days and days I couldn’t sleep more than an hour at a time; night, day, didn’t matter, couldn’t sleep. I was so tired that I couldn’t concentrate whenever I tried to pick up my book. I’ve read maybe two chapters of my book in the past five days. (And that is seriously depressing!) Secondly, I’ve just hurt too much to do anything but lay here and whimper. And blow my nose. And cough. And cough. And cough. And blow my nose. And… well, you get the point.

So, instead of getting any reading done, I’ve vegged in front of some really bad daytime television (and one really good Law & Order: Criminal Intent marathon. Yay Bobby Goren!). So, for the past few days, I decided to watch the four movies I own based on one of my favorite books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. And I thought I’d share the different versions, which I like for different reasons, with you all here. *Note: There are way more than four versions of Alice. Source: imdb.com


Alice in Wonderland (1933)
The screenplay for this film was pulled from both of Carroll’s Alice stories and was heavily influenced by Eva Le Gallienne’s and Florida Friebus’ Broadway version of the novel, which premiered onstage in 1932. Produced by Paramount Studios, the film was released on December 22, 1933 in hopes that it would revive the failing studio which was facing bankruptcy. However, the film was considered a box office failure despite it’s star-studded cast. The failure of the film at the box office was attributed to the fact that although a top-rank cast was used, many of them were virtually unrecognizable under their heavy makeup and costuming.
Over 7,000 actresses were screened over a five month period before Charlotte Henry was finally chosen to play Alice. Henry was relatively unknown in the film industry at that time, having only debuted on Broadway five years prior.
Some of the other stars in the film are W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Gary Cooper as the White Knight, and Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle.
It’s an old film, obviously. You can occasionally see some wires. The effects are hardly up to 2011 standards and the film is black and white. However, if you love old films, or even if you just have a love of Alice, you’ll probably like this movie. It was never legally released on any home viewing format prior to 2010. It was however shown on television and in schools in the 1950’s and 60’s. Thanks to the success of Tim Burton’s Alice last year, Universal (they bought the distribution rights from Paramount in 1958) released it for the first time on dvd.


Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Produced by Walt Disney Productions and released on July 28, 1951. Continuing the pattern of film versions of “Alice in Wonderland” not being commercially successful, this movie was a huge box office failure. However, it did become something of a cult film during the 1960s, where it was viewed as a “head film”.
The movie took five years to complete, but was in development for over ten years before it entered active production.
Alice was the first Disney theatrical film to be shown on television. In 1954 it was shown as the second installment of the “Disneyland” TV show, edited to fit into a one hour time slot. It is also the only Disney feature-length cartoon film to have its first theatrical re-release after it had already been shown on television.
This was the first feature film for which Walt Disney was able to use television for cross-promotion. Disney’s very first television program, One Hour in Wonderland (1950) (TV), which was broadcast on Christmas evening of 1950, was devoted to the production of this film. Naturally, the entire program, including the clips from the movie, were in black and white.
Early drafts of the script had Alice encounter the Jabberwock (to have been voiced by Stan Freberg), from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky”. The sequence was rejected, either because it slowed the story down, or because of concerns that it would be too frightening. Elements of “Jabberwocky” remain in the film, however: the Cheshire Cat’s song “T’was Brillig”, consisting of the opening stanza; and the Tulgey Wood sequence, which includes at least one of the creatures mentioned in the poem, “The Mome Raths”.
Disney also re-released this film on dvd after the success of Tim Burton’s Alice in 2010.
It’s Disney so I love it and it’s Alice so I love it even more. It’s not my favorite film version of the book, nor is it my favorite Disney film, but I do enjoy watching it from time to time. The characters and animations are cute and the songs are fun.


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972)
Released in the United States on November 20, 1972. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a 1972 British musical film based on the Lewis Carroll novel of the same name.
It had a star-filled cast including Fiona Fullerton as Alice, Michael Crawford as the White Rabbit, Sir Ralph Richardson as the Caterpillar, Sir Robert Helpmann as the Mad Hatter, Peter Sellers as the March Hare, Roy Kinnear as the Cheshire Cat, Dudley Moore as the Dormouse and Hywel Bennett as Robinson Duckworth (a part with no dialogue). John Barry composed the score.
In 1973, the film won the BAFTA Film Award at the BAFTA Awards Ceremony for Best Cinematography, won by Geoffrey Unsworth, and Best Costume Design, won by Anthony Mendleson.
Fiona Fullerton is best known for her part as Alice in this film and as KGB spy Pola Ivanova in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill.
Though it had previously been released on dvd it had not been properly restored. It was supposed to be restored and re-released on dvd after the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in 2010.
This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I watched it over and over and over again on HBO. This is the movie that first inspired me to read the book. It was also my favorite musical film, though at the time the only other musicals I had seen were The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz.


Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Walt Disney film, released March 5, 2010. The film was released on dvd just three months after it’s big screen debut. The film earned $116,101,023 on opening weekend in the US.
Casting auditions for 250 extras were held in the British city of Plymouth on 6th and 7th August 2008. Requirements were for people with a ‘Victorian look’ and for applicants to have no visible tattoos, piercings or dyed hair. Actress Mia Wasikowska beat out several candidates for the role of Alice, including Amanda Seyfried and Lindsay Lohan, who lobbied for the role. According to Tim Burton, it was Mia Wasikowska’s gravity that won her the role.
This film marks the 7th time Johnny Depp has worked under the direction of Tim Burton and the 6th time for Helena Bonham Carter.
Despite the fact that there have been many other Alice in Wonderland films, Tim Burton has said he never felt an emotional connection to it and always thought it was a series of some girl wandering around from one crazy character to another. (In fact, the original books are part of a once-popular fantasy genre in which the character does nothing except wander around from one crazy encounter to another. Those films which replicated this were being true to the spirit of the original books.) So with this, he attempted to create a framework, an emotional grounding, which he felt he never really had seen in any version before. Tim said that was the challenge for him – to make Alice feel like a story as opposed to a series of events.
Although Helena Bonham Carter’s character is named the Red Queen, and has a rivalry with the White Queen as does the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass, the character is in fact in all other ways based on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, incorporating her anger management issues, decapitation mania, and fondness for flamingo-and-hedgehog croquet. This is why while the White Queen’s army is chess-themed, the Red Queen’s army is playing-card themed. The battle scene at the end resembles a chess scene from afar to pay tribute to the chess game that Alice is playing all throughout the original text, “Through the Looking Glass”.
This is my favorite Alice movie. First, I love love love Tim Burton. Second, well, Johnny Depp… Need I say more? I like that Burton changed the story and made it something new and different that hadn’t been done before. It wasn’t just the same old jumble of characters spouting the same nonsense lines over and over again. It was rather refreshing in that way. I think that Burton’s dark method of storytelling was perfect for creating a “modern” Alice. If you haven’t seen it then I must assume you have been living under a rock for the past two years. And you should remedy that as soon as possible. Unless you’re nine, in which case, you should wait until your parents give you permission to watch it. 🙂

Alice I Have Been

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Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin


“Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.


Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.


That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.


For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.


A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.”


I picked this book up on a whim in Target because I liked the cover.(I do that a lot.) Then I read the story premise and I was pretty much sold. Then, I read the first page. I got about halfway through the first page, closed the book and dropped it in my cart! I knew right then that it was going to be a great read. While I was reading this, I kept forgetting that the book I was reading was fiction. It was very well written and extremely plausible. Benjamin brought the characters to life and added new dimensions to them all. I became even more interested in the Victorian era after reading Alice as well. I am very much looking forward to Benjamin’s next book, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel, which will be released later this summer. I’d also like to see Alice translated to the big screen if it could be done well.


Paperback
368 pages
Published December 28th 2010 by Bantam (first published December 9th 2009)
ISBN13: 9780385344142


4 stars