Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a familiar story of a girl named Alice that falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a nonsensical fantasy world inhabited by many colorful and peculiar creatures. Ever since the book was published, there have been numerous adaptations made after it, among the most recent being the 2010 Disney film Alice in Wonderland directed by Tim Burton. The Disney film is loosely based on the popular novel as well as its sequel Through the Looking Glass.

2010 Film DVD Cover via Wikipedia

In this postmodern adaptation, a much older, fetching, independent nineteen-year-old Alice, who is troubled by nightmares of ‘Wonderland’ (or as Burton calls it, Underland) returns and embarks on a quest filled with adventure, humor, violence, and even terror. The obvious changes made to the story, combined with the distinct design of Burton, generated a great deal of controversy as critics accused that the version was too significantly untrue to the spirit of the original works. However, while his storyline and stylistic elements diverge from the original tale immensely, Burton addresses many of the same themes as Carroll, although in a different and unique vision/context.

Nevertheless, director Tim Burton makes it clear that this is intentionally a very different sort of Alice from that of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. For example, he primarily focuses on the characters and episodes from Carroll’s darker Through the Looking-Glass rather than the more upbeat Wonderland. Additionally, Burton adds his signature nightmare approach to the film. Rather than staying true to the original text, he uses significant characters borrowed from the Alice books to create an entirely new narrative (or it can be seen as a continuation of the Alice books).

In the film Burton explores the question: What if Alice returned to Wonderland when she was older? As a result, he addresses the struggle of identity, as well as place and meaning in the experience of growing up. The movie’s opening scene takes place at a social garden party, where Alice struggles against the expectations of society. She feels increasingly uncertain about who she is, as she is reshaped according to the wishes of others and is contemplating a marriage proposal to a pretentious, titled young man she does not love.

Alice enters Underland via IMDB

When she must make the decision as to whether she will become engaged to the ridiculous man, she sees the White Rabbit and runs after it. Alice falls down the rabbit hole, in one of the only scenes highly reminiscent of the book, and finds herself not in the bright Wonderland of her dreams, but in the twisted, barren world known as Underland. Thinking she is dreaming, she meets many of the familiar characters such as the Tweedles and the Mad Hatter, who inform her that it has been foretold that an ‘Alice’ will slay the Jabberwocky monster and free Underland from the cruel oppression of the Red Queen. Although initially insisting that she is not “that Alice,” (“You’ve brought us the wrong Alice,” complains the Dormouse; She seems to have lost her “muchness”) she finds herself on a rescue adventure to free the imprisoned Mad Hatter from the Red Queen’s castle, where she slowly becomes convinced that she must in fact be the “right Alice.” Finally, during a conversation with the Blue Caterpillar, named Absalom, Alice realizes that her supposed nightmares are actually memories of a childhood visit to Underland, and that she has returned for the purpose of slaying the Jabberwocky. At the conclusion of the film, a climactic battle scene follows, taking place on a chess board surrounded by the opposing card soldiers of the Red and White Queens (two sisters at odds for the rule of Underland). After slaying the monster and giving the rule of Underland back to the good White Queen, Alice returns to Victorian society a changed woman. She is no longer prepared to accept the life predetermined for her, but sets sail for China to expand her father’s trading company and find new adventures for herself.

The Jabberwocky via IMDB

In Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation, he attempts to offer a darker interpretation, where the riddles, rhymes, and childlike nonsense of Wonderland no longer exist. As such, Burton creates a the desolate and depressing world of Underland, highlighting only the negative undertones of the original stories. Burton’s inclusion of a great mission for Alice is completely absent from the books, and serves to construct a more cohesive narrative with a more clearly defined plot. Moreover, the Jabberwocky itself is only mentioned briefly in a poem in Through the Looking-Glass, while the presence of the Jabberwocky is central to the conflict and progression of the film. As a result, Burton establishes a clear struggle between good and evil that, while it helps the adult Alice mature into the strong young woman, seems disconnected from the nonsensical spirit of the novels. Related to this, Burton’s choice to heighten the evil in Underland deprives the story of its original innocence, creating a more adult world in which pain and suffering are fully acknowledged. Consequently, there appears to be an inverse relationship between Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland due to the overwhelming differences: the more you like the Alice books, the more you’re probably going to dislike Burton’s film adaptation.

Walt Disney’s Retelling of “Alice In Wonderland”

DVD Cover - IMDb

DVD Cover – IMDb

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) Walt Disney released Alice in Wonderland in 1952. As with most Disney movies, this film featured many catchy jingles for many scenes throughout. After reading and watching the movie for the first time I unquestionably noticed a handful of similarities and differences.

The film by Disney is a combination of Lewis Carroll’s “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”. Disney’s retelling introduces us to Alice she listens to her history lesson while playing with her cat, Darna, while in the book she is sitting next to her sister reading a book. Since this is a children’s movie, it’s possible that Disney incorporated the subject of History in an educative manner to interest their children viewers in history. Children often look up at Disney princesses and characters as role models. Perhaps introducing the subject of History would spark interest in children to be like Alice and take interest in History. In the film, Alice follows a white rabbit and falls through a rabbit hole. In the movie Alice lands directly in the hall of the doors. In the Lewis Carroll’s original book, Alice has to follow the rabbit in order to get to the miniature door. In the film, as typical for Disney (giving life to inanimate objects) the miniature door speaks to Alice telling her to take a potion to change in size from a table that magically appears. However, in the text “Alice in Wonderland”, the table is already in the scene and the potion has instructions for her to drink it. Accurate however, was the scene of the pool of tears.

A major difference I spotted in the film was the appearance of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, characters that appear in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. Most significant was Tweedle Dee’s and Tweedle Dum’s recitation of “You are old, Father William”, which Alice recites in the book to the Caterpillar. Their characters however were very well illustrated in the film as they were in the original text – obnoxious and annoying. The character of the Queen was also exact as the book, with the Queen screaming “off with his head” to resolve all issues.

In Disney’s movie, the Caterpillar (as in the text) sits on a large mushroom smoking hookah. In the film the Caterpillar transforms to a butterfly where in the book the Caterpillar did not transform; it was only insinuated as Alice only talked about how the Caterpillar would one day transform into a butterfly.One of my favorite scenes from both the film and the book was of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. In the film, the white rabbit appears with the recurring motif of the watch complaining about lateness and tardiness. The Mad Hatter takes it from the white rabbit and says that it’s defective. In an attempt to fix it he begins to smother it with jelly, tea, sugar and other items from their tea party. In Carroll’s original book, the Hatter takes out his watch and asks what time it is, the white rapper makes no appearance in this scene. After she leaves the tea party Alice gets lost in the woods and meets very odd creatures, another very Disney styled animation.One of the scenes I found to be exact as the book was of the cards painting the roses red. In the movie, the cards sing a jingle that tells why they’re painting the roses red – as is explained in the book. Alice chimes in, sings along and helps them.

As the movie came to an end, Alice was chased by all of the creatures until she reached the miniature door again. She peeped through the keyhole and saw herself asleep beside a tree. Disney illustrated Alice escaping wonderland waking up to reality and going in to drink tea as instructed by, who from the book we assume is her sister. The book also ends with Alice waking up from a dream, however in the book she wakes up to her sister instructing her to go in for some tea.

A few pieces from Carroll’s original book I found were completely omitted from the Disney movie were: the concept of the chess game, the scene of the queen and the pig, the Mock Turtle, the dormouse story from the tea party, the Gryphon, the Jabberwocky, and the Lobster Quadrille. I feel that these are scenes that Disney did not incorporate in their retelling because they were scenes that perhaps children would have trouble understanding.

Disney movies, especially the retelling of “Alice in Wonderland”, are marketed and geared towards the children audience. Their films feed to the child mind, and this retelling of Alice’s curious and imaginative world explored just that. It allowed for the child mind to explore and engage in Alice’s endless possibilities.

Hello Alice

Kitty/ Alice's motivation to find the rabbit is to return his lost items to him.

Kitty/ Alice’s motivation to find the rabbit is to return his lost items to him.


Alice talking to the caterpillar

Alice talking to the caterpillar

The Hello Kitty Alice in Wonderland was very interesting; it included many of the famous episodes from the book, including the pool of tears, the caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and others. Hello Kitty is known for her cutesy animation and innocent behavior, and her adventure in Wonderland is no different. How the other characters are portrayed is slightly different, however.

When Alice meets the caterpillar, for example, she and him do not recite a poem, instead she just asks him for help. He does not smoke either, or carry himself in a haughty manner. Instead, he immediately offers her the mushroom that adjusts her height.

The episode I found to be the most interesting was the Cheshire Cat. His animation was incredibly unique compared to the rest of the episode. He was drawn in a more kooky way. In a way it was funny how different he was drawn compared to Alice, even though they are the same species. That could just be how the animators wanted to represent that Alice is from the “real” world.

Why Alice follows the rabbit down the hole is different from why she follows him in the story. In this adaptation, she does it because he has misplaced his gloves. This is a minor detail in the book, but a major part of the plot in the adaptation. In fact, it is so major that it is the last frame of the film with a close up of the gloves.  He also loses a fan.

I think the reason Sanrio (the company that owns Hello Kitty) choose to adapt Alice in Wonderland is because children enjoy the events in the book. Children also enjoy cute things. Cute makes things more approachable;  the story of Alice, which can be scary in some points, is made more approachable by making everything sweet and friendly. Hello Kitty is known for being friendly, and her name even begins with a friendly greeting of Hello.

Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6tllkG8flk


Malice in Wonderland

The moment I discovered Malice in Wonderland, I knew it was love at first sight for me. As an edgier and much darker adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s beloved novel, this movie presents Wonderland in a whole new vision.

via wikipedia

movie cover via wikipedia


As the movie begins, we are introduced to Alice, played by Maggie Grace, who is running away from two men. She happens to run into the middle of the street and gets hit by a black cab. The cab, driven by none other than Whitey, knocks her into a hazy state of mind. Whitey, who can be perceived as The White Rabbit, is late for an engagement. He’s been trying to pick up a gift for Harry Hunt, the mob king. Throughout the entire movie, we see Whitey accompany Alice on her adventures and sometimes we see love sparks between the two far stretched characters.


Whitey and Alice via screenshot

Whitey than proceeds to pick Alice up and drag her into his cab, but he turns around to an older couple calling the police. The entire scene looks likes a kidnapping. When Alice wake up, she finds herself far from London and mistakably in Wonderland, where staying true to Carroll’s novel, she meets all the well-known characters with a dark twist to their personalities.

As the movie continues on Alice meets Gonzo. In Carroll’s novel, he is the Dodo, but in the movie he is a low-life thief, deceiving his way up on crime food chain. A conversation is conducted between Alice and Gonzo, only long enough until Whitey comes to rescue her. As he whisks her away to safety, she makes the decision to have Whitey drop her off at the nearest bus stop so she can make her way back to London. Then we meet Felix Chester, a radio DJ, who sort of keeps Alice company as she waits. While Whitey continues his mission to find the perfect gift, time rolls on, and a silver, bedazzled town car pulls up next to Alice. It is the Caterpillar driving with his prostitute in the backseat.

A crazy twist for the Caterpillar is that instead of hookah, he’s smoking marijuana. This part, I found very interesting because the effect for the questionable drug makes the conversation between the three characters into a rhyme scheme. When the prostitute would say something, Alice’s response would have an end rhyme.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 12.41.41 PM

Harry Hunt, mob king  via screenshot

The Caterpillar drops Alice somewhere and she ends up meeting Hattie, the madam to a mobile brothel. Hattie is just as loony as the Mad Hatter himself. She gives Alice a makeover as she’s sleeping and then forces Alice into a session with a dirty man. Alice manages to steal the entire mobile brothel, drives away and is saved, yet again, by Whitey. Together they go through a small debacle and Alice finds herself face-to-face with Harry, the mob king himself. He is Carroll’s Queen of Hearts. Hattie comes back and asks for justice because Alice stole her prostitutes. Felix Chester gives her a window of opportunity and she gets away.

I don’t want to give too much of the movie away because I highly recommend it. While the characters, as dark as they are, stay true to Carroll’s intentions, there are elements of the novel found throughout the movie as well. It just took me three times to watch it to really find them. For example, there is a mentioning of Father William and most the dialogue and setting reflects the vagueness of the novel. Overall, the movie was the most creative adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that I have seen.

The Muppets’ Alice in Wonderland

Alice falling – screenshot from The Muppets’ Alice in Wonderland

The Muppets’ Alice in Wonderland episode was originally presented through “The Muppet Show”. It retains this aspect of performance mixed with real life, for instance, the guest actress actually grows too large for the dressing room, and the trial is almost canceled.

The White Rabbit runs throughout both the action and the show commentary – for instance, he asks where the hole is while Kermit is presenting the scene. The show is filled with puns. For instance, when the White Rabbit enters and sees Alice for the first time, he says that he is looking for a hole. Alice asks, “A whole what?” “I hate smart-Alices”, he responds. The play on words, reminiscent of Carroll’s writing, is much of the humor throughout the episode. The scenes included are the falling scene (complete with a song), the caterpillar scene, Humpty Dumpty, the Jabberwocky (with a recitation of the poem!), the trial scene and the mad tea party.

Shields grows too big for the dressing room. – Screenshot

When Brooke Shields, the guest star, grows too big from the mushrooms, the original order of the scenes is altered – the falling and caterpillar scenes appear in order, but the mad tea party is pushed to the very end. This intersection of “real life” and the storyline creates a whimsical retelling that in many ways, effectively portrays the chaos as Alice enters and explores Wonderland. Not all of the scenes happen in the order that they occurred in the book because of effects that occurred from other parts of the story, so at the least, this cause-and-effect sequence seems fitting for Carroll’s story because of the chaos contained there. The scenes are even presented with little or no context to further this confusion. For instance “the trial scene” is announced without any preface of who is going on trial and why.

Scooter says at one point that “I tell you. This is the weirdest thing we’ve ever done on this show”. This seems to be the entire point of the show – to highlight the weirdness without giving a cohesive retelling of the story. If the goal here is humor, however, the show has certainly obtained it – the entire episode is very funny. However, it seems to require a previous knowledge of Alice in Wonderland to appreciate some of the changes made to the actual scenes. For instance, the Doormouse has become the Door-chicken, which changes the characterization here in a humorous way, but only if you knew that the Doormouse was supposed to be sleepy all the time.

I think the creation of this episode allows the creators to mix Alice in Wonderland with The Muppets, since the show is equally about the personalities of the Muppets as well as Alice’s story. The result is that the viewer doesn’t necessarily learn about Alice in Wonderland or watch an accurate retelling, but they are able to engage with the chaos if they are at all familiar with The Muppets or themes from Alice.

Guest star Brooke Shields in the Mad Tea Party Scene – from The Muppet Wiki

It shows us other ways in which the stories can be told, and gives the viewer a good idea of how cause-and-effect-related the different scenes/episodes are in the book.
Overall, this suggests that Alice in Wonderland is perceived as something that is difficult and not quite easy to grasp. The chaos of this structure and the scenes highlighted, shows that while some scenes are quite famous (the mad tea party, for instance), other plot points are not as clear.


Voyant tool to analyze Advice from A Caterpillar

Alice in Wonderland Voyant tool Blog Response

The section that I chose to focus on is “Advice from A Caterpillar” from Alice’s Adventures in      Wonderland. I chose that section because I feel like it has a strong theme of identity so I was   curious to see if the word cloud would show signs of this.  This was the first time I’ve ever used           Word Cloud so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I also know that I’ve seen a word cloud before but    did not pay much attention to it. At first it did not seem very complicated to use, all you have to                 do to initially get started is to cut and paste then hit reveal.  At first the word cloud contained a                 lot of what is referred to in elementary schools as sight words such as it, and the word and but        after I used a tool that cut them out it made it slightly more focused.

I supposed the use of this is to give someone who’s never read the chapter a slight glimpse of what it may be about.  I do realize that our main purpose as students is to use this tool to help analyze the text deeper though I am not sure if I am completely sold on it.  Although I realize that I have not spent much time experimenting with it in that regard so I can’t confirm that it isn’t useful.  Artistically I do like the way it looks and if I was able to post pictures with a paper I wrote or used it for a power point presentation then I could see how it could provide use aesthetically at least.

The other tool I experimented with is the tool that tells the frequency of words.  For some reason it already had the word “it” in it’s bank and showed that “it” was very frequently used so that proved to be nor surprise. I put other words such as “afraid”, “think”, “voice” and “understand” because those words are ones that that seemed to come to mind after reading the chapter. The word think had a higher frequency rate then the other words I put in.  Perhaps if I was my research paper contained a section on the use of a certain than this tool could be of greater use.  Personally I think if I was better trained on the word cloud tool then I would be able to be much more successful using it. However I am still open to experiment with it and would like to see if I could discover more use out of it.








A Word Cloud to Illustrate Alice in Wonderland’s: Advice from a Caterpillar

The fifth chapter of Alice in Wonderland, Advice from a Caterpillar, introduces Alice to a wise insect. Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a caterpillar smoking hookah. The caterpillar questions Alice and she confesses her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. In an attempt to analyze this passage by using a digital humanities method, I created a word cloud using a tool provided by Voyant. The world cloud generated a visual analysis of this passage. The words in the original text are strategically prepared and weighted according to the number of occurrences in the text.


At a glance, the word that is graphically represented as the largest and consequently appears most in the text is the word “the”. The word that is graphically represented as the smallest and thus appears the least in the text is the word “replied”. These two words although not extremely significant key words to this passage like William, Alice or caterpillar, are important to the analysis of this passage. Lewis Carroll, author of the popular novel, makes excessive use of the word “the” when speaking of the caterpillar. The caterpillar does not have a name; as a result Carroll cannot address him as caterpillar but as the caterpillar. The word replied is least used because Carroll uses dialogue when illustrating a conversation versus a he said, she said, he replied, or she replied approach.

In an attempt to filter out words that I felt were less important or significant I used Voyant’s Taporware tool to adjust my word cloud to themes and words I thought were more noteworthy. As a result, a second word cloud was generated.


After filtering out a few words, I think the second word cloud is a better representation of the advice from a caterpillar passage. This word cloud allows the reader to focus their attention on the larger words illustrated: Alice, Caterpillar and youth allowing for an enhanced illustration of the themes and key words of this passage. In this customized word cloud the word “caterpillar” is the largest, occurring 24 times in the text. Coming in second place, the name “Alice” appears 22 times.

Upon analyzing the word cloud and exploring other tools on Voyant I discovered that the word trend graph best illustrates the exchange in conversation regarding the advice the caterpillar is instilling upon Alice.

word grapgh

While the word trend graph allows to clearly see the exchange in conversation, the word cloud allows us to visually analyze themes and key words.  The word “caterpillar”,  suggests a theme of evolution or transformation. This is particularly evident for Alice because it exemplifies Alice’s quest to find herself taking on advice from the caterpillar.Words such as “youth”, “minute”, “life”, “youth”, “old”, and “beginning” suggest a theme of a self-journey to find one’s self. Words like “inches”, “mushroom”, “height”, “little”, “grow”, and “size” illustrate the caterpillars instructions for Alice to eat in certain ways to grow or shrink in any given situation. The words “father” and “William” appear fairly small suggesting that they are not words that are often repeated in the text. While this is a true statement, these two words encompass a deeper meaning to the chapter being analyzed. By simply seeing these two words on the cloud it is not evident that in this passage the poem “Father William” is used as a tool to trigger Alice’s memory.

After experimenting with a word cloud as a method of analysis it is not until after the word cloud has been customized to our own liking that it will make sense to us. From the first word cloud created it wasn’t clear what the centralized theme of the passage was. It wasn’t until I filtered out a few words that the theme and key words were more apparent. However, the word cloud does not necessarily provide a close reading of the passage. It allows only for a visual to be explored for further analysis. Thus, in any case I don’t think it’s an accurate means to analyze a story by its word cloud.

Voyant Tool – Word Cloud

When first hearing about this assignment, I was a bit confused how it would contribute to the assignment at hand. I decided to work on the passage of Alice in Wonderland entitled “Pool of Tears”. The section I chose from Pool of Tears was the beginning until she starts to cry. What I found in the passage by doing the word cloud, is that there is a lot of insignificant words that make up my passage. Some of those words would be like and which is said 57 times or the which is said 64 times. These little words that do not important are what make up the text. So I took some of those words out and made some of the less used words stand out such as Alice that was only used 11 times. I would try to make my own word cloud focus on words that were more unique to it so that it could get a better look versus the small words it started to focus on.

One thing I saw in the Voyant tool was that when I would click on the word, it would then highlight the word in the text. Thats helpful because otherwise I would not pay attention to it in the text. Then theres a graph that is next to it seeing how much the word is used and when in the text but graph size.

The Voyant tool can be helpful when being used in text form. It also can be nice when trying to use a logo. I have looked up some further logo designs for word clouds and they become very creative. Its also good to use when close reading because you get a sense of the word as well.

Voyant Tools: Garden of Live Flowers

When experimenting with the Voyant Tools website, I focused on a section from the Garden of Live Flowers episode in Through the Looking-Glass. I begin my investigation of the excerpt first by constructing an unedited and unfiltered word cloud. Unsurprisingly, the words “the,” “you,” and “said” occurred the most regularly in the text. I then applied the Taporware list of excluded stop words, and added the three insignificant words to be eliminated as well.

After editing the contents of the cloud, “Alice” (14 times) and “Tiger-Lily” (12 times) became the most common occurrences. This was certainly not an unexpected result, as much of the dialogue in the passage occurs chiefly between the two characters. In comparison to “Tiger-Lily,” “Rose” (8 times) occurs almost as often, whereas “Daisies” (3 times) recurs noticeably less frequently. I found this observation particularly intriguing and useful. As Carroll remarks upon the themes of class and social structure throughout the chapter, the findings assist in reinforcing his views. The higher frequency of the two ornate flowers help to visually accentuate their superiority and dominance, signifying their elevated status over the humble, common and simple second-class daisies.

Additionally, I further examined the interactions and conversation between Alice and Tiger-Lily. As a result, I composed a Word Trend Graph to map their dialogue with one another.  From this, I was able to focus on the two words using the Keywords in Contexts tool. Accordingly, I learned that Alice is described as feeling “criticized” and “astonished” while receiving the unfavorable comments from the flower. In response to this, Alice searches to sooth its ill temper. This helps to suggest that, overall, Carroll deliberately sought to communicate the conflicting views of manners, behavior and knowledge held by individuals of different rank, as well as emphasize the constraining nature of social division.

Surely these tools enabled me to easily navigate through the text, allowing me to choose specific words so that I could investigate their contexts with efficiency, as well as find support through useful visual aids. As a result, the Voyant Tools proved to be relatively valuable and beneficial in performing a close reading analysis. However, the tools do have their limits. While I was able to gather some insights, generate graphic diagrams and swiftly identify trends and passages to strengthen my findings, the observations and interpretations were restricted. As such, the word cloud and its tools provided an inadequate representation of the excerpt, as it failed to sufficiently illustrate several of the significant themes expressed in the passage (e.g. nonsense and wordplay).

Voyent Word Cloud

I played around with the site for an hour so and came to the decision that I absolutely love it. I’ll be honest, I was playing around with it for so long because I was just testing some of the things you could do with the word cloud. I’m still completely lost and have no idea what some of the things do, but I did pay attention to how many times a word was used or how large it appeared on the actual cloud. I tried to edit the stop words so that “Allice” or the “Caterpillar” appeared much larger, but I don’t think I did it right. It seems like a user error. I do think it would be a good idea for a close reading because if the word cloud is done right, it can be very inspirational and very thought provoking. For example, for someone who hasn’t read the story, maybe if they see some of the focus words formatted to be larger, might be more appealing or engaging. I think for a close reading, a word cloud would serve as a great resource.