"Through the Looking Glass: The Many Alices of Wonderland"
March 5th, 2010
March 5th, 2010
Wonderland? I have the strangest sense that we've been here before.
What began as a child's story created by a young man during his time spent with his boss' children in the 1850s has become a cherished classic – and time and again, its likeness has proven that it has staying power.
Lewis Carroll (or Charles Dodgson as he was known then) first spotted a nearly four-year-old Alice Liddell in 1856, while she played in a garden. During a boat trip in 1862, he began a story about an adventure in a dizzying world full of peculiar creatures, a place called Wonderland. The star of the tale was none other than Alice Liddell, the child who had sparked his fascination to a degree that some suggest would teeter on the border of obsession.
On Christmas, 1864, Carroll presented Liddell with a completed manuscript, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Though Liddell and Carroll's time together would come to a mysteriously abrupt end sometime during the summer she turned 12, Liddell would forever carry around the identity of the little girl who fell down the rabbit hole.
Carroll's story of little Alice rose to a worldwide fame that has spawned an eclectic mix of adaptations, some are demure childish romps while others are soaking with psychedelia.
Since the first stage show, we've found Alice after Alice in film, musicals, comic books, video games and yep, even porn. We seem to be just as mesmerized with Alice as Carroll was, and Hollywood certainly seems to have a never ending supply to meet the demand (and then some).
Director Tim Burton's version of Alice hits screens today, and for the first time, Wonderland will be in 3D.
We've taken a thorough look at the many faces of Alice throughout her history in Wonderland, from the unknown to Academy Award winning actresses, and we're hopeful at least one can tell us exactly why a raven is like a writing desk.
In 1886, H. Saville Clark's musical version of Alice in Wonderland was a hit in London with Phoebe Carlo playing the role of Alice. The show would be revived every few years until 1927 at London's West End. In 1932, actress Eva Le Gallienne adapted a stage version of her own. The play would be revived in New York several times, the latest being in the 1980s.
The first film adaptation of Lewis Carroll's story was released as a silent film in 1903, with May Clark starring as Alice. The film was revered for its use of special effects, but only one copy of the film is still in existence after 107 years, and parts of the film are lost forever.
The first sound version of Alice in Wonderland was a low-budget American film produced by Metropolitan Studios with Ruth Gilbert.
This Paramount Pictures production was the introduction of the all-star Alice line up. Mega-stars Gary Cooper and Cary Grant acted along side Charlotte Henry as the White Knight and the Mock Turtle.
This musical, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was the first modern musical film version of Carroll's novel and stared Fiona Fullerton. Since, other popular musical versions of Wonderland have surfaced, including 1992's Alice, an opera with music by Tom Waits and 2009's Wonderland.
This version of Wonderland is certainly no place for kids. Kristine DeBell plays a different kind of Alice in this 70s porn version of the story. The psychedelic nature of Wonderland seemed to be a perfect fit during the era of sexual freedom and drug experimentation.
This version of Alice in Wonderland featuring a young Brooke Shields was the first muppet adaptation, but it wouldn't be the last.
In 1985 a two-part TV adaptation of Alice aired starring Natalie Gregory, an actress who probably best-matched illustrator John Tenniel's depiction. The film also starred Beatle Ringo Starr as the Mock Turtle and Sammy Davis Jr. as the Caterpillar.
Another TV Alice adaption in 1999 starred Whoopi Goldberg and Gene Wilder along side Tina Majorino.
In 2009, Syfy aired Alice, a TV mini-series that puts Caterina Scorsone back in Wonderland 150 years after the original Alice visited.
The latest Alice to visit Wonderland, Mia Wasiowska stars in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in theaters today. In this version, Wasiowska's Alice is a young woman who desperately seeks to escape an engagement to a man she doesn't love and follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole a second time, only this time, Wonderland is in need of her help.
Jan Svankmajer's Alice 
For more on Alice use the blog's search engine.