The History of Alice in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures Under Ground was the title of a story told by English Minister turned author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, reportedly on a boating trip with another man and three young girls aged 8, 10, and 13. One of the three girls assumedly being babysat on the trip was named Alice. The minister changed the name in 1865, when his book was first written several years after the trip, to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, after Alice Liddell asked for it written down. Dodgson expanded on the work and published it, and the small press run quickly sold out. The books’ publishing soared, and was later shortened as Alice in Wonderland, under Dodgson’s pseudonym Lewis Carroll.

Over 155 years later, Alice in Wonderland it is one of the most famous and enduring children’s books of all time, loved by adults alike. An original copy of the first pressing sold by auction less than 15 years ago, for nearly two million dollars by a private collector. 7 years after writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Dodgson, now Carroll, went on to write the sequel, known as Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Though certain characters only appear in the second book, many screen versions of the Alice in Wonderland combine the two stories together, including this year’s latest. Over 25 film and television film versions have been made of the story, and many, works by play.

real alice

Alice in Wonderland has played an important role in pop culture, and particularly subculture. In the 1950’s and 60’s for example, its phrase ‘down the rabbit hole,’ which referred to a place of the unknown, was used as a euphemism for a psychedelic drug trip. Hippies and other drug users of psychedelics such as mushrooms, peyote, and LSD considered Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to contain prophetic, hallucinatory revelations.

The books by Lewis Carroll are filled with strange tales in each chapter, in a fairy tale of make believe turned real. As do many other modern day children’s animation stories, it has talking creatures and animals with human qualities. Today we think little of this. Back In 1931 however, communist China banned the book in the city of Hunan, due to having talking animals that are treated with too much respect, like humans. In a New Hampshire High School, Alice In Wonderland was foolishly banned due to alleged bad language, sexual references, and presumed negative portrayals of religion and teachers. One controversial modern day church would go on to use Alice in Wonderland in some of its training, in order to help people better communicate.

It is with this checkered past that the legendary Alice in Wonderland came to the mind of one of Hollywood’s most pronounced, modern day auteur directors, the lauded Tim Burton. Before Alice, he gave us the classic tale of the undead, Beetlejuice, the haunted Sleepy Hollow, the campy, dark and brilliant Edward Scissorhands, the outstanding Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the timeless, surreal, absurdist masterpiece of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, the wonderful A Nightmare Before Christmas, and many more.

To say that Tim Burton is a wonder; a true phenomenon, is an understatement. Internationally lauded as an artist, Tim Burton heads the jury at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival this May. The renown Museum of Modern Art in New York City recently launched a dazzling show dedicated to his painting. And he teamed with Disney for what is proving to be the year’s biggest hit, Alice in Wonderland. Disney even called Goth/metal retailer Hot Topic to push the party. The vamps haven’t been this excited since Twilight. Neither have we. But the fun doesn’t stop with the Goth kids. Alice In Wonderland is a film for all ages and all demographics. We are pleased to bring you here now on the next page, an interview with the film’s director, Tim Burton.


The Hollywood Sentinel, (c) 2010, All rights reserved.