I think we can all agree that most film adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, especially Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland, have been lacking something. Unfortunately, I can’t agree with Tim Burton that what’s been missing has been psychology.
Burton spoke to the LA Times recently, and during the conversation he addressed his broad ideas for the upcoming 3D Alice in Wonderland.
“It’s a funny project. The story is obviously a classic with iconic
images and ideas and thoughts. But with all the movie versions, well,
I’ve just never seen one that really had any impact to me. It’s always
just a series of weird events. Every character is strange and she’s
just kind of wandering through all of the encounters as just a sort of
observer. The goal is to try to make it an engaging movie where you get
some of the psychology and kind of bring a freshness but also keep the
classic nature of ‘Alice.’…So that’s the goal, just to try to give it a gravity that most film versions haven’t had.”
After Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the use of the word ‘psychology’ is troubling. While some of Charlie’s casting and setpieces were spot-on, the backstory given to Willy Wonka — he’s a crazy candy maker because of his ruthless dentist dad, boo hoo — was utterly out of place and wholly unnecessary. And because Alice is such a collection of weirdos and miscreants, many of whom could easily be mis-conceived as damaged goods because of reason X, Y and Z, I shudder to think at how we’ll learn about their true natures.