Journal Article

Adaptation as Compendium: Tim Burton's <i>Alice in Wonderland</i>

Kamilla Elliott

in Adaptation

Volume 3, issue 2, pages 193-201
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/adaptation/apq009
Adaptation as Compendium: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

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Most reviewers decree Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland ‘disappointinger and disappointinger’, both as a literary adaptation and as a film, largely because the film adapts so many things besides Carroll's books, rendering it digressive and derivative. The script, which expresses anxieties about being ‘the wrong Alice’, figures the adaptation/sequel as a compendium (a brief treatment of a subject). Compendium's second sense, inventory, points more centrally to the film as pastiche. Since literary film adaptations are increasingly constructed as deliberate pastiches of other cultural productions, I argue that it is time to ask new questions of these processes rather than view them solely as failing the books and copying rather than creating. The review ends with a discussion of how CGI (computer-generated imagery) and 3D displace Carroll's nonsense as superior sense with fantasy as alternative reality and how the film's colonial ending reflects Disney's own, very real capitalist enterprises in China.

Keywords: adaptation; film; children's literature; pastiche

Journal Article.  3962 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film ; Television ; Literature

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