The Tim Burtonization of Alice in Wonderland

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An essay on Alice in Wonderland Novel by Lewis Caroll Film adaptation by Tim Burton

In 1962, film critic Andrew Sarris points out a repeating movement of ideas and images throughout a filmmaker’s body of work. This later on becomes the basis of Auteur theory which describes the authorship of the filmmaker who despite is working within the bounds of a studio system is able to imprint his/her ideologies and personal style into his/her films. According to Sarris, to be an auteur the filmmaker must be able to master three criteria: technique, style, and world view. American filmmaker Tim Burton is one who definitely satisfies all three conditions. With his highly stylized films, including Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990) which is arguably his most remembered film, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Sweeney Todd (2007), he has created a definition of the Tim Burton film that cuts across different genres, forms, and decades. In his latest film, Alice in Wonderland (2010), an adaptation of the Lewis Caroll classic, Burton confidently takes liberties to add another piece to his dark and quirky oeuvre. An important theme in the Tim Burton body of work is alienation. Burton’s characters are generally outsiders, outcasts, misunderstood, and misperceived. It is the most original characteristic of his works. It is true to his personal quality as well. Burton draws inspiration from his childhood, who as growing up is described to be different from the others. He says so in some of his biographic interviews. It is not hard to understand this since even as an adult he does portray a different look in the way he dresses or the way his hair remains unkempt. It is as if every movie character he creates is an extension or a version of him. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice is shown as a misunderstood adolescent. On the physical, she looks...
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