One can almost see the meeting of studio executives that preceded the production of Tim Burton’s new film of Alice in Wonderland. A half dozen cocaine-addled Bard graduates blinking through the aftereffects of yet another night of silicone implanted satyriasis and quietly musing on the possibilities inherent in Lewis Carroll’s century-old fairy tale. “What,” says one, “if instead of being a little girl, Alice is, like, a hot girl-power feminist teenager?” “Cool!” says another, “and what if like, everything that happened in the book happened, like, before.” “Yeah!” says another, “and what if, instead of just wandering around seeing weird things, she has to go Lord of the Ringson, like, something…?” “Awesome!” says a third, “and what if, like, at the end, the Mad Hatter dances like Michael Jackson? That would be so cool.” At this point, someone calls to find out if Johnny Depp is available.
And so it went, one imagines, until the big budget, 3-D, Dolby Sensurround travesty of one of the most beloved pieces of British whimsy literature was completed; leaving the Walt Disney studios a great deal richer and its viewers considerably poorer in every sense of the word.