After reading Alice last week, I was reminded of the recent Alice movie remake (the one with Johnny Depp). I happen to own the movie and over break, despite a lack of power (praise be to generators) and perhaps because of the lack of cable, my family ended up watching an abundance of movies including Alice in Wonderland.
While watching the movie, I was struck by how much the movie departed from the actual text. The movie was a mash up of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (if only because the slaying of the Jabberwocky occurs on a chess board). While the differences are interesting, though perhaps not unexpected, they are not what really caught my interest.
The Alice in Wonderland movie is unique in its distortion of the human figure. The distortions are reminiscent of fun house mirrors. In the text, Alice is distorted a few times by eating and drinking certain concoctions and this does happen in the movie. However, the movie expands on this idea by distorting other characters. The Hatter’s eyes are overly large and change color. The Red Queen’s head is disproportionately oversized for her body. Stayne, the Knave of Hearts, looks stretched and oddly tall. These distortions create a weird “wonderland” atmosphere and in the realm of this movie, the distortions of these characters are “real.” The members of the Red Queen’s court, however, have unreal or put upon distortions. They use prosthetics to change their appearance.
We talked about manipulating images in class and I can’t help but link that idea to the Alice movie and to life. What is it that makes these courtiers manipulate their self-image? While the courtiers do it in a very drastic sense, large noses, droopy ears, in a very basic sense we, as human beings, do this in life quite often. Makeup is the example that comes to my mind first. We use makeup as a method of altering self image in order to change how other people see us. In a sense, we have been manipulating images much longer than we have had photographic images to manipulate.