Absolutely Alice

I went to the movie “Alice in Wonderland” directed by Tim Burton.

Twice.

Twice because I was enchanted by the colours and because it reminded me of the old “Alice in Wonderland” storybook I had as a child.   It hasn’t been often lately, that I have gone to a movie that has successfully transported me back to my childhood.  A movie that has transported me back to where I could see myself at six or seven or eight years old, sitting on the floor of the old farmhouse.

Up the stairs,

in front of the purple painted bookshelf

a Saturday evening with plastic curlers in my hair (ensuring “church hair” the next morning)

pouring over “Alice….”.

It’s not often I go to a movie for its use of colour.  I usually go for story.  Actually, I’m not much of a moviegoer at all. Sometimes I go just to see the special effects, or I go so that I can participate in the discussion in the staffroom Monday morning and not feel left out.   But in the case of Alice in Wonderland, it was the colours I found most captivating.

If you could taste the colours presented in this movie they would be: the tartest of red cherry, black licorice (but more like ouzo than fennel), limoncello crispness and Blueberry Freezie.  A plethora of flavours.  If you’ve gone to the movie, you’ll know what I mean.

I want to dress as the Queen of Hearts for Halloween, if anything for her interesting use of blue eye shadow and piquant heart shaped application of lipstick.  And I loved the evolution of Alice’s colour.  At the beginning, a washed-out blonde with a pasty white complexion.  But at the end, when Alice found more of her “muchness”,  golden tendrils and the pinkest of cheeks.  The kaleidoscopic palette of Wonderland will jar anyone out of the doldrums of winter.

When I was a child my volume of “Alice in Wonderland” possessed the quirkiest of drawings.  John Tenniel was the illustrator. (He was most noted for his political cartoons and illustrations for Punch and Judy during the early part of the twentieth century).  I would gaze at and flip through his pictures for hours, then visit and revisit them again.  I particularly remember Alice the Duchess and the Baby thinking “how silly of the cook to be putting all that pepper in the soup.  What an extremely ugly baby” and being obsessed with the size of the duchesses head. A second picture of note was the Mad Hatter and the March Hare Stuff the Door Mouse Into the Teapot.  “What are they doing to that poor mouse?  He will never fit!”  The picture Off with Her Head where every character looks all angular and straight where Alice is curved and real with her tangle of hair. Oh Tiger Lily was my favourite.  The faces on the flowers seemed haunting.  I would look closely at the petals in my mother’s rose garden in search of a face.

Artwork with impact.  An impact big enough for a person to remember thirty years after first viewing it.  As a little girl I would take “Alice in Wonderland” off the shelf primarily for the pictures.  Enthralled, wanting to be a part of the story, but being comfortably disturbed enough to be relieved the story was confined by the bindings of the book.  The sign of a true classic is to have withstood the test of time…and still exist in the weakest of memory.

To see for yourself the wonderful artwork of John Tenniel go to http://www.johntenniel.com/index.php

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3 thoughts on “Absolutely Alice

  1. This blog took my breath away! Tangible and tasting colors was an unbelievable experience and I haven’t seen the movie yet!! You are a truly gifted writer…. No wonder I loved ela on high school!! :0)

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