By Fred Topel | Image property of Walt Disney Pictures
Alice in Wonderland
Tim Burton doesn’t approach anything the straightforward way. Even letting his surreal mind lose on Alice in Wonderland creates an unexpected vision of the Lewis Carroll classic. Perhaps this goes back to Burton’s own experience with the subject matter.
Tim Burton Talks Alice in Wonderland
“Well, I’m from Burbank so we never heard about Alice in Wonderland except for the Disney cartoon, Tom Petty video, Jefferson Airplane,” Burton said. “It was interesting because that’s what made me realize the power of it is that I got my introduction to it much more from other illustrators and music and culture and writers. The imagery would come up in work. Then when you start to delve into it and realize just how powerful that is, it’s why it sort of remains that way.”
His version is a pseudo-sequel to the story, with a grown-up Alice revisiting the characters in Wonderland. “I started thinking about the world of Lewiss Carroll, thinking not so much about the films and things but I knew more about it from listening to music and bands and other illustrators and artists that would incorporate that imagery in their work. It just made me realize just how powerful the material was. Like if it were written today, it would be mind blowing today. So the combination of the medium and the material just seemed really right.”
Visual effects technology allowed Burton to have some fun with the size and proportion aspects of Wonderland, altering actors and characters on screen. “We were just using all the different technology. They’re all out there and people go purely motion capture, purely animation, different forms of animation. Everything’s a new tool. You always have limitations. You can do more. It’s all great but I never try to focus too much on the technology. The fun of it for us is the artistic thing of it and feeling like making a movie and stuff and not get overly too involved, in love with technology.”
Perhaps the biggest special effect was Johnny Depp himself, in his seventh film for Burton. “Look, I’ve always loved working with Johnny from Scissorhands on for many reasons. He likes to play characters, be different things. He doesn’t like watching himself which I love because that makes it a lot easier for me. Which is great and each time you do something, he’s always trying to do something different, surprises. It’s great when you know somebody and they keep surprising you.”
Alice in Wonderland opens to theaters on March 5th.