Saturday, June 05, 2010

Movie of
the Month:
Part 19

I recently reviewed the following documentary for Video
, and thought the results were worth sharing.

ALICE - A Look into Alice's Ad-
ventures in Wonderland
(Gerry Malir, UK, 2009, 90 mins.)

Without Alice Lidell, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland wouldn't
exist. This British documentary explores the relationship between
the author and his muse, which came about through Lewis Car-
roll's employment with Oxford's Christchurch College, where A-
lice's father served as dean. When the mathematics lecturer, born
Charles Dodgson, met Alice in 1855, she was three years old, too
young to befriend, so he initially socialized more with her siblings.

Other members of the Lidell clan would become Wonderland
characters, such as the governess-inspired Queen of Hearts (the
film posits Carroll as the White Rabbit). He also took inspira-
tion from the works of William Blake and William Wordsworth,
who shared his belief in the innate wisdom of children; while the
book sprang from a tale he spun to entertain the young Lidells.
Drawings, photographs, and clips bring his resulting story to life.

While at college, Carroll took up photography in addition to writ-
ing, displaying a talent for both (he even penned the original illus-
trations). Young girls became his favorite subject, though the pro-
gram doesn't claim any impropriety on his part. Director Malir
does note, however, that the diary pages detailing this four-year
period no longer exist (relatives removed them). Lidell herself la-
ter wrote, "Being photographed was a joy to us, not a penance."

Sadly, Carroll broke with the Lidells prior to Alice's 1865 pub-
lication for reasons that remain unclear, though the narrative
offers a convincing theory. With an extensive quantity of liter-
ary and historical detail, Alice takes aim more at the academic
than casual fan, but never gets too dry, and includes the 1903
and 1915 silver-screen adaptations. Highly recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part 18: Beeswax

Endnote: Slightly revised from the original text. Click here for
my review of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Image from
Alice Pleasance Liddell with her sisters (circa 1859).

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