So dooown the rabbit hole we go again! We´ve been waiting for months and here it finally comes, the Tim Burton – Johnny Depp – Helena Bonham Carter-fueled version of the classic tale Alice in Wonderland.
We know very well the magical story once told by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) one sunny day in 1862 to the eager ears of three little girls. One of them was Alice Pleasance Liddell, the inspiration for Alice. It birthed a written novel three years later under the title of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and ever since it´s influenced the world of film, music, literature, manga and performing arts.
The Tim Burton version that´s now hitting the screens is not the original story at all. The biggest difference is maybe that this time we will actually meet an almost grown up Alice, as opposed to the 6 year-old in the original story:
In the film, Alice is now nineteen years old and accidentally returns to Underland (misheard by Alice and believed to be called Wonderland), a place she visited thirteen years previously. She is told that she is the only one who can slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen who terrorizes Underland’s inhabitants.
The idea for a New Alice was developed in 2007 as a collaboration between screenwriter Linda Woolverton, who’d previously written Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and co-wrote The Lion King, and film producer and director Joe Roth. Tim Burton was signed as director in November that same year.
The story might have a somewhat feminist twist to it – Woolverton researched how young women were expected to behave in the Victorian era and then made her Alice character do the opposite. Alice is pressured to conform to society’s expectations, but instead grows into a strong-willed heroine who chooses her own path. Let’s hope so, considering Disney isn’t always so very… should we say… gender-aware.
As an aside, there have been quite a lot of misconceptions surrounding characters from Alice in Wonderland – for example, the Jabberwocky, the head antagonist in Burton’s version, is often thought to be a character in the first book, but it actually only appeared in the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass; similarly, the The Queen of Hearts is commonly mistaken for the Red Queen. Many adaptations – and there are A LOT of adaptations – have mixed the characters like this, causing much confusion.
One wonders if this latest one won’t cause even more confusion. Imagine those kids that will have there first encounter with Alice right here and now in 2010. Will they grow up thinking, “Oh yea, Alice in Wonderland, that IMAX 3D film about a teenager who goes to Underland to kill a dragon”? Let’s hope parents make them read the original.
Here are the Shanghai cinemas screening the thrilling tale of white rabbits, blue caterpillars and Cheshire Cats…
Check out what other movies are showing in Shanghai this coming week. Links lead to info about times and venues.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (波西·杰克逊与神火之盗): It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they’re not happy: Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy’s mother. As Percy finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, he and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves. The movie is produced by Chris Columbus,who has formerly directed and/or produced “Home Alone”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Gremlins” and the Harry Potter movies.
- Sherlock Holmes (大侦探福尔摩斯): Sherlock Holmes, the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who first appeared in publication in 1887 has made it to movie theatres in many different versions. This time under the direction of Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.
CHINESE LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Lan (我们天上见): Actress Jiang Wenli tells her childhood story in her directorial debut “Lan”. It depicts a little girl, whose parents are political prisoners, growing up with her grandfather during the notorious Cultural Revolution in China.
- Fire of Conscience (火龙对决): Dante Lam, (who directed last year´s “Sniper”) is now making a case for himself as the Michael Mann of Hong Kong. In a front-runner for the title of loudest film of the year so far, “Fire of Conscience” tackles the heady subject of police corruption at street and institutional levels. Grizzled cop Man (Leon Lai, sporting a nifty beard) works the pickpocket beat following the death of his wife, but while investigating the death of a prostitute he finds himself drawn into a deadly crime conspiracy, teaming up with former narcotics detective Kee (Richie Jen). After some of his team are killed in a shootout at a restaurant (an amazingly staged scene very reminiscent of the best action moments from Michael Mann) Man is increasingly determined to get to the bottom of the plot, which involves gunrunning, drugs and explosives.
- Beauty on Duty (美丽密令): A rookie policewoman (Choi) rescues a witness of a murder case during her first patrol. The witness is willing to testify against the murderer only if the police team protects his daughter. As a result of this, the rookie is forced to participate in the “Miss Asia Beauty Pageant” together with the girl to ensure she is safe by her side.
- 14 Blades (锦衣卫): Daniel Lee´s martial arts epic stars certified Kung Fu badass Donnie Yen in the role of Qinglong, or Green Dragon. He is the best of the so called Jinyiwei, an imperial elite force of assassins recruited from street orphans. Jinyiwei were masters of the 14 Blades, eight being for torture, five for killing, and the last blade being reserved for suicide when a mission failed. When the emperor is kidnapped and the court taken over, Qinglong takes on the mission of restoring the emperor to power. Also starring Vicki Zhao and Chun Wu.
OTHER LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Crossing Henessey (月满轩尼诗): “Crossing Hennessy” is an engagingly fresh and enjoyable dramatic comedy that makes great use of its Hong Kong locations as it delves into the romantic complications of modern urban life. 41-year-old slacker Loy (Jacky Cheung) sleeps in all the time and doesn´t do much with his life. His widowed but flamboyant mom (Paw Hee-ching) sets him up on a matchmaking dim sum lunch with Oi Lin (Tang Wei), a quiet mainland girl-next-door (well, a few streets away). Before long, mom starts to arrange the marriage details, not knowing that Loy is still into, and seeing his ex-girlfriend, who´s now divorced and back on the market. Meanwhile Oi Lin is waiting for her bad boy lover to get out of jail soon. Directed by Ivy Ho. In Cantonese and Mandarin.
- Future X-Cops (未来警察): A police officer (Andy Lau) from the year 2085 accidentally arrives in the year 2010. He meets a fellow police officer (Barbie Hsu) and they team up to take on an international crime syndicate. In Cantonese.
- Kandidaten / The Candidate (迷魂陷阱): In this Danish thriller directed by Kasper Barfoed we meet Jonas Bechmann, a defense attorney who is a man of the system, until the day he himself is accused of murder. Taking matters into his own hands, he throws himself into the hunt for a group of blackmailers who threaten to expose him as the killer. But nothing is what it appears to be, and the blackmail links back to his father’s death under mysterious circumstances a year and a half earlier.
- Ne te retourne pas / Don´t Look Back (不要回头): A 2009 psychodrama about a photographer whose pictures tell a different story to that of her perception. Directed by Marina de Van and starring Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci. The film is in French and Italian.