Friday, March 5 marks the release of Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland.” After checking out the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA in New York at the end of January, I predict a scrawling, blubbering, rubberized, colorized interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s hallucinatory Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Burton’s muse Johnny Depp plays a rouge-enhanced The Mad Hatter. Burton’s longtime partner Helena Bonham Carter bursts as The Red Queen. Alan Rickman, the “voice of God,” plays The Caterpillar.
It was easy to imagine how Charles Dodgson, who wrote “literary nonsense” under the Carroll pseudonym, influenced Burton’s work as we walked down museum-white hallways of edible stripes, chomping hoses, and sordid baby dolls. But Burton doesn’t liposuction the books he makes into films, he builds a lard house out of them and then lights it on fire to fuel his own eager, weird intellect.
I wonder how Carroll, back in the 1860s fueled his stories. When I was in primary school, my math teacher said he did his writing in opium dens. That would explain it. But his personal diaries indicate he simply liked children. They’re cool. He concocted labyrinths of hazy yet heightened rhetoric—the kind of sophisticated, wacked-out language kids get, because their impulses detect non-sense and their minds read pleasure.
It’s with that feeling Carroll and Burton capture the sensory part of our collective brain, the pleasure center. Stories that are capable of blowing open the prolific, complex chapters of our childhoods tend to not leave out the simple joys in life.