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LEWIS CARROLL - ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
It was no surprise that Tim Burton's 2010 film about 'Alice' proved to be so popular, as 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' and 'Through The Looking Glass' were books of such imagination that they will always remain timeless.
The stories appeal to both children and adults alike, and they have an essence of Grimm about them. Also, the drawings of John Tenniel were vitally important to the popularity of both 'Alice' books - great as Lewis Carroll's 'Alice' books were by themselves. Tenniel's beautifully striking black and white illustrations multiplied the impact of Carroll's vivid stories.
Both books have a mix of humour and more dark themes. The humour of 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' is superb, especially the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, and there's so many wonderful moments which move and enchant in equal measure: the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, the Cheshire-Cat, and the giant Caterpillar and the tale of Father William. The trial in 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' is quite dark, if humorous at the same time, with the White Rabbit and Bill the Lizard playing a key role in proceedings.
Not what you might expect from a supposedly grim and serious Victorian Britain, 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' was originally published in 1865, and this was followed by 'Through The Looking Glass (with the often added subtitle: 'And What Alice Found There') in 1872.
'Through The Looking Glass' is believed by many to be the superior 'Alice' book. 'Through The Looking Glass' is packed with fantastic characters such as Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the White Knight, the Red Queen, the White Queen, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Lion and the Unicorn, the Sheep, the Frog, talking flowers, a talking Gnat, the cat Dinah, her kittens Kitty and Snowdrop, the Mad Hatter again, and, of course, the fearsome Jabberwock, made famous in the famous nonsense poem, 'Jabberwocky'. It's not surprising that Monty Python's Terry Gilliam used the latter poem as a title for one of his films, as this book is really Pythonesque - though without the rude bits!
It should be remembered that Lewis Carroll was a very bright individual, and amidst all this mayhem 'Through The Looking Glass' has high brow references in a light-hearted way, with mentions of Anglo-Saxon history, portmanteau words, and the book opens with a poem, the characters listed as if from a play with chess characters, followed by a chessboard laid out with Alice's moves.
'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' and 'Through The Looking Glass' will continue to enchant children (and adults) for a long time to come - via book, TV, and film. Both books are really saying: "READ ME!"
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
Alice In Wonderland DVD from Amazon.co.uk
Alice In Wonderland DVDs from Amazon.com
Richard Adams - Watership Down
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