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I mentioned to Professor Schacht leaving class the other day a couple of other interpretations of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" with which I was familiar.  Because it is such a well-known story, it pops up frequently in television and other forms of art.  Here are a few examples:

 

The first was an episode on the SyFy show "Face Off," which is a special-effects movie make-up competition.  One of the challenges a few weeks ago was to imagine that a zombie virus had invaded Wonderland.  Each artist had to re-imagine a character from Lewis Carroll's story as a zombie.  Here are a couple of examples of what the artists came up with. 

The Cheshire Cat:

 

The Mad Hatter (in the background you can also see one version of The Queen of Hearts):

Another example also comes from SyFy channel (it's another interesting question to ask why the "Alice" stories so easily lend themselves to science-fiction interpretations).  This example was a miniseries called "Alice" that premiered in 2009, in which Alice returns to Wonderland as an adult.  This version is a complete reimagining of Wonderland, adding modern elements while still containing classic Romantic elements.  For example, the oysters are humans whose emotions are harvested and condensed into potent drugs by the Queen of Hearts.  The White Rabbit is the head of the organization that kidnaps oysters, and the Mad Hatter is a member of the organization that opposes the queen.  The March Hare is the queen's assassin, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are her head interrogators/torturers.  I found a decent fan-made trailer on YouTube, and there's also a link to the Amazon page for it.

 

 "Alice" Amazon Page

 

Finally, there's the recent YA book series called "The Looking Glass Wars" by Frank Beddor.  I haven't read these myself yet, though they've been on my list for quite some time.  The series includes three books:  "The Looking Glass Wars," "Seeing Redd," and "ArchEnemy."  In this interpretation, Alyss is the princess of Wonderland whose parents were murdered by her evil Aunt Redd.  With the help of her bodyguard Hatter Madigan, she escapes to 19th-century London through the Pool of Tears.  Here, she encounters Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), becomes his friend, and tells him her story.  In his resulting stories, he vastly misconstrues the truth, even misspelling Alyss's name.  In the meantime, Hatter Madigan is trying desperately to find the princess and restore her to the throne of Wonderland.

The Looking Glass Wars

Seeing Redd

ArchEnemy

 

Sorry that this post is so long, but there was a lot to contribute!  I think it's really interesting that "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" are such popular stories for retelling.  Why do you this that is?

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5 Comments

  1. Unknown User (lmg19)

    It seems "Alice" is such a popular story to remake/retell because of its obscurity. Since it isn't a cookie-cutter story or even a story that occurs in a real world setting, the story leaves lots of room for interpretation. It reminds me of other popular stories like Little Red Riding Hood which has been adapted into two movies. One movie Red Riding Hood (2011) portrayed the original story as a horror with gore and mystery. The other, Hoodwinked (2005), is a family comedy for younger children and create a humorous mystery about the Goodie Bandit. Both movies have images from the original scene such as the red hood and the infamous wolf, but they each have their own twists on the plot of the story.

  2. Unknown User (mka4)

    As Leandra said, Alice's story is one that can be understood in a myriad of ways.  This characteristic of the story, coupled with the fact that in the end Lewis Carroll gives credit for the entire adventure to Alice's imagination, allows for a reader of the story to use his or her own imagination to expand upon it.  We, the readers of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, seize the opportunity to picture our own Mad Hatters and Cheshire Cats.  The make-up artists on "Face Off" took advantage of this facet of  Carroll's story and took the added liberty in imagining these characters as zombies.  

      Another reason that Alice's story has been explored and manipulated in so many different ways is that we, the readers, in response to our own human nature ask, "why?".  Personally, when I read this book as a child and now as a college student, I could not believe that the grand adventure that Alice went through was simply a dream.  The nonsensical situations and ideas introduced by the the text had to be indicative of something.  Many of those who have created in response to Alice's adventures search for the reason for the events in the book.  Are they a reflection of Carroll's feelings?  Do they say something deeper about Alice? Is the author insinuating something about the human experience?  It seems to me that the author of "The Looking Glass Wars" is using his own imagination to explain the events that have been attributed to Alice's imagination.  In SyFy's "Alice", an attempt to understand the adventures of Alice from an adult point of view is explored.      

    1. Unknown User (snl4) AUTHOR

      I think that's an excellent thought.  The idea that the "reinventors" are creating their own approach to the story as a way to find reason in it is fascinating, especially when it's applied to such stories as the "Alice" stories, where there seems to be no reason whatsoever.  Others who have studied the stories also try to attribute meaning through the supposed symbolism they find there.  I think this also draws an important distinction between reading for pleasure and "close reading".  One can have two entirely different experiences of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" depending on which approach they take.  I wouldn't dare to make a judgment about which experience of the book is the more powerful or important one, but there is no question that the different means lead to different ends.

  3. Unknown User (cmn10)

    I've actually read Through the Looking Glass Wars before – I don't have the book here with me at school but remember it fairly well. I'd never read any of the original Lewis Carroll books when I read Looking Glass Wars, and so coming to Lewis Carroll's books now is kind of like a fresh take on the story for me. Frank Beddor spins Caroll's Alice stories as lighthearted parodies of Alyss' "truth" and makes it much less fantastic/magical, turning Wonderland into a place with a comprehensible culture and rules (relating back to our discussion from Friday). Although I've yet to read the second and third books of the trilogy, the first one was pretty compelling. I recommend it to anyone who's looking for new reading. =]

    As far as this discussion goes, I think Leandra's got a point; Alice's story is retold often because of its obscurity, its nonsensical characters. We are outsiders looking in on Wonderland – just like Alice – and that leaves a lot of room for moviemakers/writers/artists to change the way we see Wonderland. Beddor puts the reader inside Wonderland, making them a part of the world, which allows him to retell Carroll's classic with what is obviously a very different perspective, and therefore a different mood.

  4. Unknown User (bbc5)

    Let's face it; the world can be incredibly boring at times.  With all of society's rules, norms, and expectations, it seems like there is little room for the individual to exercise their creative will.  If we're not careful, we can easily slip into a monotonous daily routine with little deviation from one day to the next.  

    Take a typical week for a student here at Geneseo.  From Monday through Friday, you're generally not roused from your slumber in a peaceful fashion; the sun doesn't filter through your shades kissing you good morning nor does your mother greet you downstairs with breakfast on the table.  No, instead you are violently thrust from dreamland into the real world by an incessant, buzzing alarm clock.  Groaning, you have to will yourself from your cozy covers and trudge over to the bathroom to get ready for the day.  You're not exactly psyched for biology or comparative politics at 8:30 in the morning, and since you hit the snooze button a couple of times, you've left yourself about 10 to 15 minutes before you have to walk that same stretch of sidewalk to class.  Throwing on a pair of pants and perhaps even dragging a comb through your hair, you gather yourself and set out the door for just another day in the life.  Throughout the day, nothing really deviates from the standard routine; you go to class, maybe two or three, perhaps meet a friend for lunch, spend the early afternoon knocking off some schoolwork, go to practice, have dinner, meet Milne for your 3 hour date upstairs, and then return home.  Chances are, as long as it's not Friday, you'll be doing roughly the same thing the next day.  Sure, your class schedule may change, and they won't be serving the same food at MJ or RJ (or will they...), but realistically you're engaging in the same, tedious routine as the previous day(s).

    But then again, there's nothing wrong with that.  I have a lot of respect for hardworking people who, day in and day out, adhere to a rigid, daily schedule.  Parents who tough it out at work just to put food on the table or students who juggle a seemingly overwhelming number of activities and classes are certainly honorable in my opinion.  Life's not fair, and sometimes we just have to suck it up and keep on plugging away, even if it's at something that we loathe.  

    Then along comes this Lewis Carroll character with his book about a little girl named Alice and her adventures in Wonderland.  He's an odd fellow, but his book seem interesting enough, so we crack it open and read a page or two.  Before we know it, we've run out of pages to turn, and we're left with a distinct aftertaste of this place called Wonderland in our mouths.  Like any tasty fruit, we soon find ourselves wanting more.  First, we get a sequel: Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.  Then we move on to the movies.  Next come the plays and musicals.  Television follows suit.  Spoofs, reenactments, and other retellings then flood bookstores around the world.  Like ravenous monsters, we gobble them all up, feeding our curiosity and intrigue, but always wanting more: more moves, shows, musicals, sequels, spoofs, retellings, merchandise, anything that will give us a taste of this Wonderland.

    Why is it that the Alice books are so popular?  Why is it that we are so infatuated with Lewis Carroll's bizarre world that no amount of books, movies, or plays can ever completely appease us?  The answer, I believe, resides in Wonderland itself.  Simply put, it's different, and that's what makes it interesting.

    Human beings are innately curious creatures.  We can't help it; we're fascinated by anything and everything that's different from us.  In the realm of science, we've catalogued, studied, and tested anything we could get our hands on from things that crawled, bounded, scurried, swam, or flew across this earth.  We've even moved on to observing and theorizing about the planets, our Sun, distant stars, and the overall universe, categorizing stars, galaxies, and anything that falls into the range of our ever expanding scientific knowledge.  Why?  Because we're curious; we want to know not just how our human world works, but how other worlds work as well.  Whether that be the animal kingdom or some far off star or planet in the universe, we're generally interested in it and want to learn more.  So when Lewis Carroll comes along with his fantasy world Wonderland, it's only natural that we'd want to know more about it.  How does that world function?  What goes on within it?  What kinds of creatures inhabit it?  How can we understand all its intricacies and working components?  Each book, each movie, each performance, and each retelling offers us with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the sights, smells, and sounds of this world so we can better understand how it works.

    We find ourselves retreating to Lewis Carroll's works so often because they are refreshing; they provide us with a nice escape from the norms and rules of our own society.  As Alice realizes herself at the very beginning of Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland, the real world can be boring, dull, and listless.  Sometimes, the laws of propriety and physics can be too constraining as we find ourselves limited in our actions and capabilities.  Wonderland defies all that.  In creating his fantasy world, Carroll crumpled up the norms, rules, regulations, and even the laws of physics and tossed them out the window; the only rules that govern Wonderland will have spawned from his own, rich imagination.  By subjecting Wonderland to his own set of rules and norms, Carroll introduces us into a world full of oddities, whimsy, and irony, a world where big blue caterpillars offer some of the best words of advice, gardeners paint flowers red instead of replanting them, cats grin from ear to ear, the sentence arrives before the verdict in a courtroom, and it is important to "say what you mean" instead of "mean what you say."  And when we find ourselves asking "why?" to all these questions, to all these norms of behavior, Carroll coyly smiles, presents us with his books, and asks us in return, "why not?"