Wide Reading – Alice in Wonderland

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness”

Tim Burtons 2010 film ‘Alice in Wonderland’ adds common gothic elements to the original story ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ to create a darker story line. Tim uses make up as to create the gothic characters, the film also uses gothic music to create tones and moods. We are also shown how Alice follows her emotions instead of what is right.

19-year-old Alice is first seen attending a garden party where she is confronted by an unwanted marriage proposal, she does not know what to do so she just takes a minute away, following the strange rabbit she has been dreaming about and seeing all day. After following the rabbit for some time she accidentally falls into a large rabbit hole under a tree. Alice finds herself not in the bright Wonderland of her dreams, but in the twisted, barren world known as Underland. She emerges in a forest where she is greeted by a group of strange animals and cartoon like characters that can speak. They argue over whether Alice is “the right Alice” who must slay the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky and give back the White Queen’s power.

The Mad Hatter helps Alice avoid being captured by the Red Queen by allowing himself to be taken instead. Alice is then found by the Bloodhound, but Alice wants to help the Mad Hatter. The Red Queen is unaware of Alice’s true identity so invites her in as a guest where Alice learns that the only weapon that can kill the Jabberwocky is locked inside the den of the Bandersnatch. Alice gets the sword and makes friends with the Bandersnatch by returning its eye. She then escapes with the Bandersnatch and takes the sword to the White Queen. The Cheshire Cat saves the Mad Hatter from the Red Queen. On the day that Alice takes on the jabberwocky, the White Queen and the Red Queen gather their armies on a chessboard-like battlefield and send Alice and the Jabberwocky to fight. At the end the White Queen gives Alice some of the Jabberwocky’s purple blood which will bring her whatever she wishes. She decides to rejoin the everyday world where she impresses Lord Ascot with her idea of establishing oceanic trade routes to Hong Kong, where she goes with him as an apprentice.

From the beginning of the story we notice that Alice has a much more pale face compared to everyone else, indicating to me that her soul is slowing dying in the world that she is currently in and she needs to escape. She has a gothic and ghostly pale to her face, including sunken eyes backing up again that she is not happy there.

Common gothic music is used in some of the scenes to add tension and uncertainty, creating a gothic atmosphere in the film. When the Mad Hatter is telling Alice about his past the music goes from happy piano music to deep, dark organ music which makes our heart rates increase and we become on edge, as if we are watching a horror movie. Organ music is also used when Alice first meets the Red Queen to create a spooky and unsettling vibe for the audience, indicating that the Red Queen is bad and will only cause trouble in the story. When Alice is fighting the Jabberwocky there is also dark, fast music playing increasing our adenine as Alice could at any minute be killed. 

In this movie we are shown how independent Alice is and how she follows her own emotions instead of what she maybe should be doing, there are many examples of this shown in the film. Alice does not want to marry into her ready planed out future, instead whats to do her own thing. No-one cares about her “sightings of the supernatural”, as many times at the beginning of the film she was trying to tell her friends and family that she has been having strange dreams and been sighting a white rabbit in a waistcoat. Alice becomes obsessed with what she is seeing and what is going on in her head, she dose not even want to be involved in her proposal that everyone is there to see, but runs away to see where the rabbit is gone. She makes herself look crazy as no one else can see what she is.
At the beginning Alice thinks its a dream, when watching this I think that maybe it is a dream as it is so unreal to imagine and maybe its all happening in her head.

Burton creates a the desolate and depressing world of Underland, highlighting only the negative undertones of the original stories. Bit this makes it an outstanding gothic film compared to your usual gothic films. It may not be as spooky and scary as other gothic films out there but it holds gothic elements and when you pay attention to whats happening in the film you understand how it relates to theres. I really enjoy this movie and highly recommend it, it goes to show how many strange things go on in our heads.

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