Mirrors

 

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They fuse our vanity with imperfection, reflecting bone hair skin

undeciphered as we preen

fuss, adjust every eyelash every detail

and yet

fall prey to an astounding

disconnect.

 

Caught perpendicular, a grim imitation, false

replication

passed like alchemy though glass, copper, halide

and silver, a vast shattering

We are not

what we Are.

mirror 4

 

 

An Analysis of Alice

 

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I am a huge Lewis Carroll fan.  The Alice stories (In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) are among the best ever written. To my thinking, they are worthy of analyzing and revisiting many times over, always with something new to be discovered.

Because the original work is presented with a good deal of abstract symbolism, readers often misunderstand, or are completely baffled by the text. (Especially if they are trying to decipher it on an adult level.)  Hence, film makers tend to go ‘over the top’, often presenting the story with a lot of bells and whistles that were not included in the original story. (Tim Burton and Disney both did this.)

It is, at its core, a story about questioning authority. Carroll pokes fun at just about every Victorian institution. His attack at  child rearing, for example, is evident in the fate of the baby that turns into a pig.

Alice pig

He pokes fun at the school system, evident in the ‘reeling and writhing’ classes of the mock turtle. He makes fun of he British monarchy (‘Off with her head’ is a reference to its once frequent be-headings.)

Alice flamingo

The War of the Roses is also mocked, with the servants painting roses from white to red (representing York and Lancaster dynasties.) The court system is criticized in the Knave of Hearts’ trial. There is a message about being controlled by schedules in the rabbit’s obsession with his watch and the idea of ‘beating time’.

The Alice books show a test of one’s ability to adapt. Alice finds herself in the strangest of circumstances and tries her best to fit in. In the end she discovers the Wonderland creatures are ‘nothing but a pack of cards’ and thus no better than she herself. (Lower than she herself actually…)

As in any quest for knowledge, and as is frequently the experience of one ‘growing up’, Alice often becomes ‘too big’ for her own surroundings.

Alice house

She may be terrified at the changes within her own mind and body – frequently the experience of adolescents and young adults. And yet, as the frog footmen, the lizards and rabbits scurry about, Alice is aware of their silliness, much in the same way an enlightened being becomes aware of the triviality of the world.

Perhaps most importantly, the books teach self actualization. Alice is frustrated, but in the end she realizes her nuanced opinions have some validity. Her experience is just as important as anyone  else’s.

No wonder Wonderland became so popular!  First published in 1865, it has never been out of print. The first fans of the Alice books included Queen Victoria and Oscar Wilde.  The Alice books are also reportedly the most quoted books in the English language, right up there with the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.

Carroll was among the first to use a dream sequence in a novel — a technique that became more popular with the work of Sigmund Freud in the early 20th century. Today dream sequence in film is almost passe’. We have seen it a hundred times, and it is frequently uses as a cliffhanger, or to ‘trick’ the viewer.  But back then it was certainly innovative.

Ironically, although Carroll is frequently accused of drug use, the kinds of drugs they associate him with were not discovered until much later. For example, ‘magic mushrooms’ were discovered in 1955, and LSD was first synthesized in 1938, which I guess proves that Carroll had a brilliant imagination.

alice mushroom

So, forget Tim Burton and all other fabrications. Here I give you a movie which is actually very close in sentiment to the Real Alice!

This 1972 film, directed by William Sterling, captures the intent of Lewis Carroll. Using most of the book’s original dialogue, script writing owes credit to Carroll as well as Sterling. The talented cast includes Fiona Fullerton, Dudley Moore and Peter Sellers.

Although the film is lacking in super-duper mind blowing special effects (it was, after all, made in 1972 on a limited budget) it nonetheless does a great job of capturing Carroll’s  ideas.

Running time is about 1 hour 30 minutes. Hope you get a chance to watch it!

 

 

Go Ask Alice

 

Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass-Trailer-Mia-Wasikowska-1024x518

“When logic and proportion   

Have fallen sloppy dead

And the white knight is walking backwards

And the Red Queen’s lost her head

Remember what the dormouse said.”

Can we change history by traveling back in time?  This very interesting question is posed in the new movie Alice Through The Looking Glass.  At first glance you might think this is a kid’s film, but don’t be fooled; this is actually a quite complicated story that will most appeal to adults and fantasy/ sci fi fans.

A Steam-punk  Alice (Mia Wasikowska)  is captain of The Wonder, her deceased father’s ship, circa 1870.   After three years out at sea, Alice returns to her home town to find her life in shambles.  The evil Hamish  has taken over her father’s company. Her mother’s fortune is in jeopardy and  Alice must give her up her beloved ship, resign as captain and take a boring job as a desk clerk.

In a moment of confusion Alice retreats to the parlor and follows a butterfly through the mirror. She then lands in Underland where the real trouble begins.

Alice_through_the_looking_glass

Alice’s best friend the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp)  has gone into a state of depression regarding his family and painful past incidents.   Alice is given a mission by the  White Queen (Anne Hathaway)  to travel back in time in order to change situations that have created grief —  not only for the Hatter, but for many other characters. People in general. You and me probably…

Anne_Hatheway_as_White_Queen_(Through_the_Looking_Glass)

Everyone knows the Grandfather Theory regarding time travel. That is — if you travel back in time and kill your grandfather, you could never be born (because Grandpa wasn’t around to  sire your father, hence your father could not sire you.) Which would also mean you would not be there to time travel in the first place. Which would mean time travel is impossible.

Quantum physicists, however,  have recently made some new discoveries, and are now theorizing that there may actually be as many as eleven different dimensions, through some of which time travel would be possible. Your grandfather  is thus existing in a completely different dimension of space and time. Kill him in one dimension and he still is alive in another. Yes, kind of like Schrodinger’s cat. (This based upon Einstein’s theory and the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics, suggesting that particles can exist in two separate states, depending upon a conditional variable and how it is observed.)

 

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“Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.”   Or have they?

lewis_carroll_quote

Back to the movie!  Alice’s mission involves stealing the magic chrono-meter, which can enable her to travel through time, but can also basically destroy the world if it falls into the wrong hands.  And you know it WILL fall into the wrong hands.  Enter the evil Red Queen (Helena Bohman Carter).

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Time incarnate  (Sasha Baron Cohen) is an actual person, or maybe a robot of sorts — like I said,  this is all very Steam-punkish.   He has some really cool supernatural blue  eyes.   See this movie in 3D for an awesome surreal experience!  Psychedelic gardens, a talking butterfly, weird-funky hats and variety of time pieces which determine one’s death. Plus a disappearing cat. (No coincidence there, Schrodinger.)

I am a HUGE fan of the original Alice in Wonderland  books. This movie, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the  books.  Do not expect a replica of Carroll’s tales.   What the writers have done is create a new, thought provoking story revolving around the original characters.

Lewis Carroll was a mathemetician. He was actually an Oxford professor of mathematics, interested in time travel, the subconscious mind, photography and mirror imagery, as well as storytelling and poetry.    Alice Through The Looking Glass keeps the magical sentiment of Carroll’s original books and also stays true to the provocative questions he had in mind when he wrote them.

lewis carroll quote

I absolutely LOVED this movie.  If you are a fan of fantasy, time travel, Steam-punk or sci fi I think you will like it too.  Oh yeah, and the voice of the butterfly iis the late great Alan Rickman in probably his last performance. Which is somehow poetically and metaphorically correct…

Here is a picture of the real Alice Liddell, inspiration for the books. When in doubt, go ask Alice, or perhaps go ask Lewis.  In any case, Feed Your Head  🙂

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