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Adaptation as compendium: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2010
Number of pages8
<mark>Original language</mark>English


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.

Bibliographic note

This article has been accepted for publication in Adaptation. Published by Oxford University Press.