Tim Burton Takes on 'Alice in Wonderland'
by Matt McDaniel
June 22, 2009
Alice in Wonderland From the towering skyscrapers of Gotham City, to the foggy village of Sleepy Hollow, on into the candy-colored realm of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, director Tim Burton has built his reputation on bringing wildly imaginative worlds to life. It was just a matter of time before he ventured into one of the earliest and still beloved fantasy worlds in literature: Lewis Carroll's immortal "Alice in Wonderland."
Burton's movie version isn't simply a retelling of the original 1865 novel. It's a new story that has Alice returning to Wonderland as a teenager several years after the events of Carroll's books "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass."
But it's not just the story that will be new and innovative in Burton's adaptation. The film will digitally manipulate footage of real actors to create Wonderland's bizarre inhabitants. Burton told Disney's D23 Magazine, "It's kind of a mixture of some distorted live action and animation. I can't relate it to anything because I'm not sure what to relate it to. It's kind of new territory for me."
The visual style of Burton's take on "Alice in Wonderland" has been a closely-guarded secret up until now. Here are five photos revealing how the stars of the movie have been transformed into Carroll's classic characters. Mia Wasikowska as Alice Mia Wasikowska as Alice
19-year-old Australian actress Mia Wasikowska earned critical praise in last year's HBO drama "In Treatment." She also appeared in the WWII drama "Defiance," and was named one of Variety Magazine's "10 Actors to Watch." Burton says he chose her because "she just had that certain kind of emotional toughness...that makes her kind of an older person but with a younger person's mentality." Alice will be the only character in Wonderland who isn't enhanced in some degree with makeup or digital manipulation. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter
In the book, Carroll only ever calls the character "The Hatter," but he does appear in the chapter "A Mad Tea-Party." The look in the movie is a variation on the book's illustrations by John Tenniel, with his wild hair, oversized bowtie, and "10/6" label pinned to his giant hat. This is Burton's seventh time working with Depp over the past 20 years. He told the Los Angeles Times he likes to work with Depp because "[he] doesn't like to be the same way twice. That's good, it always keeps it fresh and all." Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen
The Red Queen is the villain of the second book, "Through the Looking Glass," though in many adaptations the character is combined with the Queen of Hearts from the first story. In the original illustrations, she is depicted as a legless chess piece. For the movie, Bonham Carter's head will be digitally enlarged to about three times its actual size. She has worked on five previous movies with Burton, and they have two children together. Anne Hathaway as the White Queen Anne Hathaway as the White Queen
In "Through the Looking Glass," the White Queen claims to be over one hundred and one years old, but she seems to experience time backwards. So it follows Carroll's twisted logic that when Alice returns the Queen would be young. While Anne Hathaway looks very different in the role with her long white hair, her appearance will not be digitally manipulated. Hathaway told MTV that while she was happy to get a chance to work with Burton, she was most excited to share scenes with Johnny Depp. She said, "I wish I could be so cool about it [but] I am such a huge fan, I felt really embarrassed. He would catch me staring at him." Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum
Tweedledee and Tweedledum appear in several versions of "Alice in Wonderland," including Walt Disney's 1951 animated film, though they actually don't appear until "Through the Looking-Glass." Carroll never specifies they are twins, but that is how Tenniel drew them. English comedian Matt Lucas plays both roles in the movie. Lucas is well known in the U.K. as half of the sketch comedy team on the show "Little Britain."
There are, of course, many more signature characters from the books that will appear in the movie that are yet to be revealed. Michael Sheen plays the White Rabbit, Crispin Glover is the Knave of Hearts, Alan Rickman is the Caterpillar, Steven Fry is the Cheshire Cat, and Christopher Lee will be the Jabberwock. Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" opens on March 5, 2010. Need to Know: Tim Burton Takes on 'Alice in Wonderland'