Sunday, January 9, 2011

I have a problem with "adaptations".

...specifically adaptations of Alice in Wonderland.
If you're one of the two, maybe three people that read this blog and are looking for a review, this is not one. This is a rant.

Has anyone else noticed that, give or take a few, generally all film adaptations of Alice and Wonderland are pretty much exactly the same? Minor differences may include certain scenes from the book being included/not included, time period, etc. That having been said, the majority of Alice and Wonderland movies are more or less completely and entirely the same. Think about it. In no way do these films deserve to be called "adaptations", as they often are. How many times have you seen: "(Director name)'s (adjective) adaptation of the classic novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"?
What I'm here to compalin about today is the lack of originality that is present in so many film versions of this highly original classic novel. Is the original work just so creative that there's nowhere to improve upon it and thus directors have to create the same mundane adaptations of it over and over again? It's straight up deppressing. The biggest difference I've seen between AIW movies is probably the colour of Alice's dress, and MAYBE slight variations in the time period. And then there are always those certain scenes from the book that may or may not be included (the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Lobster Dance, Piggy and Pepper, etc). But aside from that--every movie is this:
-Alice is between 7-16 years of age, approximately.
-The Mad Hatter has buck teeth, unruly hair, and a terribly annoying voice (usually with a lisp).
-The March Hare is kind of a jerkass.
-The Red Queen is very short and usually fat and ugly.
-The White Queen is rarely included but when she is, she's beautiful and of average height.
-Alice's outfit is almost ALWAYS blue, and there is almost always a ribbon in her hair.
-The liquid in the "drink me" bottle is typically red, while the frosting on the "eat me" cake is generally blue.
Okay, so there may be some variation in these above points depending on what films you've watched. The list is not exact in all cases, merely a general observation I've made.
Now, many of these points are so because that's how they happened in the book, so it would make sense that they would appear this way in films. HOWEVER, none of these points are crucial to the plot. IE, a director is free to manipulate any of these ideas while still staying true to the story.
-Imagine the Mad Hatter looking like a dapper gentleman--that would under no circumstances interfere with his tea obsession and general lack of sanity.
-The March Hare could be polite and it wouldn't matter or interefere with the craziness of the Tea Party.
-If the Red Queen were beautiful, this would hardly effect her evilness. In fact, if she were a stunning vamp it would probably make her appear more evil.
-If the White Queen was homely and unattractive, it would not effect her kindness. It may even help to protray her as more relatable and less conceited.
-Imagine Alice in a purple dress. NO DIFFERENCE.
-Clear liquid in the "drink me" bottle, green icing on the "eat me" cake. Fine.
See?! NO PROBLEMS.
Something I'd really enjoy seeing, however, is a LOOSE ADAPTATION of AIW. I tend to enjoy movies that you can watch the entire way through without noticing any similarities to a previous work, and then shit bricks when you read "Based on X" at the end. (Anybody remember "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?"? Yeah, it's based on THE ODYSSEY.)
I'd like to see something like this, for a change:
A girl named Alison is sitting on the subway with her sister in NYC. They arrive at their destination and make their way up the stairs at the subway station. As they emerge in Times Square, Alison notices a man in a business suit frantically glancing at his watch and murmering "shit, man! I'm late!"
A business card falls out of his pocket and, Alison, being the good samaritan that she is, picks it up as he begins to walk away and is determined to return it to him. He's still frustrated about being late and continues to rush down the sidewalk as Alison follows him. He enters a building with revolving doors and Alison follows him in after a rush of other frantic businessmen. As she enters the grand lobby of this scyscraper, she notices a seemingly classy gathering of bourgeois members of some unknown committee taking place in a lounge. Distracted by a rush of people entering the building, the front desk attendant does not notice Alison as she sneaks into the nearby lounge. The conversing people are ranting and raving over tea and Alison soon realises they are not as sane (or classy) as she would have assumed. Etc, etc.
I'm no screenwriter, but come on now. Would it kill Hollywood to produce an adaptation of AIW that was ACTUALLY AN ADAPTATION rather than simply an exact retelling?