Ever since you were kid, you’ve loved “Alice in Wonderland.” You grew up reading Lewis Carroll’s classic books, watching the 1951 animated classic, and remembering to never be late for your very important dates. Now, you’re eager to watch Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s re-imagining that hits theaters March 5th.
But before you do, you might want to know that the movie could more accurately be called “Alice Returns to Underland.” Burton and Depp have made some significant changes to Carroll’s classic tale -– including the fact that the film doesn’t adapt either one but rather presents a sequel of sorts –- so, read on for a dissection of some of the more significant changes you'll want to note with this latest incarnation.
Alice is a Teenager
Like “Return to Oz” or “Hook,” the story focuses on its main character returning to the realm where a great adventure once occurred. “The story takes place when Alice is 19, and she’s about to enter into a marriage she’s not sure about,” explains writer Linda Woolverton (“The Lion King”) in notes distributed to the press. “Time has passed. The Red Queen rules the whole land. It’s under her thumb.”
Yep, you read that right -– as it turns out, we’ve been calling the land of whimsical fantasy by the wrong name for all these years. “Underland,” says Woolverton, “is the same fantastical land that Alice visited as a child. But she misheard the word ‘Underland’ and thought they said ‘Wonderland.’ Now, as a girl on the cusp of adulthood, Alice goes back and there she discovers that the real name of the world is Underland.” If nothing else, this makes Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" unique as one of the only movies to ever get its own name wrong on theater marquees nationwide -- on purpose.
Meet the Characters Again
Much like the land in which they reside, we also learn that we’ve been calling Alice’s pals by the wrong names for all these years. The Red Queen is actually named Iracebeth (and an amalgam of the Queen of Hearts from Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and the Red Queen from “Through the Looking-Glass"), The White Queen is named Mirana, The Caterpillar is called Absolem, and The White Rabbit is called McTwisp. “That’s been invented, I believe,” explained the Rabbit voice actor Michael Sheen when we spoke with him and asked where the moniker came from. “As far as I know.”
Underland is the Wrong Side of the Tracks
Early plans for the film were to depict Alice’s fantasy land as the brightly-colored, carefree place you’d expect. But Burton has envisioned an “Underland” in decline after years of being under the rule of the Red Queen. For inspiration, the filmmaker was drawn to a World war II-era photograph of a British family having tea outside their estate under the disheveled skyline of war-torn London. "The thing about Underland," Burton explained in the film’s notes distributed to press, “[is that] like any fairy-tale land, there’s good and the bad.”
What do you think of Burton’s tweaks to the “Wonderland” world? Are you looking forward to the film?