A what? Allow the man himself to explain.
“[It’s] a kind of a semi-trailer,” Burton said. “It’s where we’re at at the moment. There’s not a lot of footage to show.”
The reason is that the technological challenges of blurring the lines between live-action, motion-capture and animation have proved to be massive. “It’s a strange process we’re dealing with,” he explained. “We’re using a mix of techniques. If you picked them apart, each technique has been done before. We’re mixing them up, in a way.”
“I wish we had more footage to show,” Burton added. “It’s a real mysterious puzzle that’s frightening and exciting at the same time.”
The “Alice” presentation will be part of Disney’s 3-D panel on Thursday, July 23, which also includes Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” and the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic, “Tron.” In addition to the semi-trailer Burton will be showing off, you’ll surely hear the director discuss his vision for the adaptation, how he and star Johnny Depp conceived their take on the Mad Hatter, and why previous versions of “Alice” have fallen short.
Lucky for you folks not making the trip to San Diego, Burton gave us the inside word. “The thing about it is it’s a series of stories,” he said. “For me that’s always been a problem with the movie versions of it. It’s always been a girl going from one weird adventure to another, and for me it didn’t have much of an impact in the versions I’d seen before. Everyone’s crazy. We tried to take the ‘Alice’ mythology and characters and make a story out of it and be true to the spirit of what ‘Alice’ is about.”
Burton also faulted past imaginings of the Hatter. “When you look at most interpretations, everything is pretty one-note,” he said. “Everybody is crazy. With him, we are always trying to find a subtext and layer to it so it’s rooted in humanity to some degree—something deeper than just being nuts.”
For those who don’t know, Burton’s “Alice” is being planned as a sort of sequel (our term, not theirs) to the story presented in Lewis Carroll’s original works. Alice, now 17, follows the White Rabbit away from a high society party, once again landing herself in Wonderland. Only this is a changed Wonderland, a place now ruled over by the evil Red Queen. And since Alice can’t remember her last visit, she’ll have some hurdles to overcome before she can help her old friends reclaim their world.
So how is Burton feeling about his first trip to the Con since a harrowing experience at the “Superman” panel in the late ‘70s? “The great thing about it is the people are passionate and that’s what you want,” he said. “That’s why you do what you do.”
What are you hoping to see in the semi-trailer? Which Disney movie—”Alice,” “Carol” or “Tron”—has you most excited?