Alice in Wonderland is not only a timeless classic, but also one of my lifelong favourite books. The story has always fascinated me, and not simply because Lewis Carroll grew up not far from where I did, in Cheshire Cat country. On New Year’s Eve I watched Tim Burton’s film of Alice, and also had chance to reflect on the story once again.
The episodic nature of the story is one of its appeals, and Carroll’s inventiveness was so rich that his work has inspired countless others. In the crime field, Night of the Jabberwock by Fredric Brown is a super novel by a terrific writer. I haven’t really talked about Brown in this blog, but I rate him very highly.
The late Edward D. Hoch contributed a short story, ‘The War in Wonderland’, to an anthology that I edited, and it went on to win an award, which gave me a lot of vicarious pleasure. For my own part, I have toyed with the idea of an Alice theme for a crime story, but – so far – the ingredients haven’t come together to make a satisfactory whole. Maybe one day.
As for the film, it was an interesting take on the story, with a great cast including Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. The visual effects were impressive. But it didn’t owe too much to the original, and whereas Carroll produced a masterpiece, Burton only managed something that, although watchable and entertaining, felt slightly unsatisfactory. He is a good film-maker, but I still prefer his Mars Attacks!, an uneven but funny movie which I’ve just watched and enjoyed again.