The Little Ones in the Great ‘Wonderland’

Just recently ‘Alice in Wonderland’ became the sixth movie to enter the billion-dollar-movie club.

Based on the book of Lewis Carroll, it’s the story of a girl named Alice (played by Mia Wasikowska) who accidentally fell into a rabbit hole that brought her to the ‘Underland’ popularly known as ‘Wonderland’. There she met many interesting creatures – the talking animals, the two weird queens reigning over the rival kingdoms, and the Mad Hatter (played by Johnny Depp).

It was indeed accidental when Alice fell into the rabbit hole, but for the inhabitants of ‘Underland’ it was her destiny to free them from the Red Queen’s rule as she was the only one who could slay the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky – a fearsome, dragon-like creature.

It’s not the first time the story of Alice reaches the worldwide audience. And usually stories that have been retold several times have fading impacts. But what made ‘Alice’ of 2010 surge so high?

I think it’s not the story but it’s the way each character was visually presented. Thanks to the brilliant technology used for the graphics and to the great hands that sculpted the faces of those giggling characters.

To some extent it is arguable if I say it’s the technology that did wonders for ‘Alice’ because in the first place the movie was not filmed in 3D but in 2D. 3D came in only during its post production. Of course, technology alone cannot make us laugh. Technology alone cannot make characters’ alive. But it’s the creative, artistic minds and skillful hands that drive the technology to tickle our imagination.

Taking visual impact into account, I don’t refer to the sceneries of the ‘Wonderland’. ‘Wonderland’ is not a wonderland at all for me. It’s far behind the breathtaking ‘Pandora’ in ‘Avatar’ in terms of awesomeness. The fighting scene of Alice and the Jabberwocky is not that impressive.

I think the secret of ‘Wonderland’ lies in the little guys that make us laugh in their little moments. Ironically, Alice is not the most the impressive of all characters. She’s probably the most boring in the entire ‘Underland’. The Red Queen was even more interesting. The Mad Hatter was amusing but still he is not the best there. Among all the computer-generated characters Jabberwocky seems to be the most important one but it’s not reason why ‘Wonderland’ should deserve great attention.

Let’s put our wide eyes on the little ones.

First, look at the White Rabbit. How he amusingly displayed that spy-look while slipping away from Alice. Then there are these Tweedle twins who constantly made us giggle with their silly looks and acts of stupidity. Without them it would have been a different outcome for ‘Alice’. Then meet the wise Absolom, the smoking caterpillar – sweet, adorable, very cool and as smooth as the smoke that playfully came out of his mouth. The sweet-smiling Cheshire Cat who has the power to appear and disappear was just as powerful as Monalisa in keeping his smile wonderful and contagious.

Indeed, the golden wonder of this movie lies on the artistic utilization of the state-of-the-art graphics applied on the little characters. Now let’s put on the looking-glass the unimportant, poor, little frog that appears in the middle of the story struggling to conceal his guilt from the scrutinizing eyes of the Red Queen. I’m not sure if that frog appears in the original Lewis Carroll’s book. But I think its role there in the movie was just to portray the terrorizing character of the Red Queen. Look at it closely in the eyes. How it appeared so naturally nervous. It was just an insignificant moment of the story, but a very significant achievement of the movie’s character artists. And I consider it as the movie’s critical point and barometer of success.

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