Though the rework of this Lewis Carroll classic seem like a merger between Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking glass, but is there a need for it to be done in 3-D?
By: Ringo Bones
Though the 21st Century incarnation of 3-D cinematography is here to stay because it manages to sell itself effortlessly, Über-director Tim Burton might had his own reasons for why should Alice in Wonderland be done in 3-D cinematography. But shouldn’t we be first try to explore what compelled the Oxford mathematician named Charles Dodgson a.k.a. Lewis Carroll to write the two adventures of Alice in the first place and why should it be done under 3-D cinematography?
When Lewis Carroll wrote Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass around the early 1860s, the stereoscope – an instrument that became an extremely popular parlor toy during the Victorian era and 3-D cinematography’s great grandfather – started to gain inroads into English households. Stereoscopes require two separate photographs of a scene – known as a “stereo pair” – taken from slightly different angles. These photographs are placed in a small viewer, which permits one to be seen by the right eye and the other by the left. The brain accepts the disparity between the pictures as normal and blends them into a three-dimensional or 3-D view.
Though the stuffiness of “polite” Victorian era society is well known – just ask Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Friedrich Nietzsche among others – the 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland didn’t forgot to point it out. It was also at this point in time when many mathematicians – like Lewis Carroll / Charles Dodgson – now see themselves as formulators of possibilities, rather than as “mere” discoverers of truth. Which lead to his development of symbolic logic – an attempt to reduce all human reasoning into a mathematical notation.
Lewis Carroll was the pen name of the serious Oxford mathematics lecturer named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and famed for being the finest photographer of children in Victorian England. Most (?) readers today know that the story was invented for a little girl named Alice Liddell, and that it was told to her out loud one summer’s day before it was written down on paper. While the 2010 remake circles around a 19-year old young lady named Alice Kingsley who was doing her best to go to the hoops and conventions of the “polite” society of Victorian England. What everyone now accepts as to what Alice looks like first came from the illustrations done by Sir John Tenniel, when Lewis Carroll’s Alice Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865.
Though Charles Dodgson signed his real name to only his “serious” mathematical works, mathematicians for decades have been intrigued by the rich skein of symbolic logic that is woven into fantasies like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It is very likely that Charles Dodgson – a.k.a. Lewis Carroll – influenced Albert Einstein in using familiar situations of his “thought experiments” to explain the unfamiliar ideas of higher mathematics. Thus making Dodgson’s less serious fantasy literature as a “thought experiment” set in prose form. Even contemporary science fiction like Star Trek has inspired Professor Miguel Alcubierre to formulate his now famous Alcubierre Equation.
Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice often gets entangled in many a verbal jungle in the wonderland on the other side of the looking glass, but much of that tangled verbiage can be hacked away via the sharp blade of symbolic logic. The mathematical symbolism of symbolic logic might seem incomprehensible to the layperson, but it ahs a clear and precise meaning to the logician which plain words just won’t do. In the rigmarole of logical jungles much thicker than that encountered by Alice, symbolic logic has been used successfully to blaze a trail to the heart of the meaning of vague or complex arguments in law and metaphysics.
To those in the know, symbolic logic is the most introspective of the Victorian era supermaths. It is a notation for stating and manipulating all sorts of propositions so as to bring both sequiturs and non-sequiturs into mercilessly sharp relief. Through symbolic logic, mathematicians have undertaken a Sisyphean task in which to classify and analyze the thoughts involved in every branch of mathematics. With the aim of identifying the axioms and procedures at the base of each and of reducing all possible proofs to the barest skeletons.
Symbolic logic has produced one of the most curious and influential theorems in all modern mathematics. This is Gödel’s Proof – an extremely abstract line of reasoning which shows that no useful branch of mathematics can be constructed on a consistent set of axioms without raising questions unanswerable within the framework of the axioms themselves.
Now that we know how the fantastic mind of Charles Dodgson / Lewis Carroll works at work and at play, it is now safe to assume that the “inherent weirdness” of the 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland is as predictable as several impossible things happening right before breakfast. The conflict between the Red Queen and the White Queen may appear to some to be influenced by the conflict between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. But I just can’t help myself thinking that Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of the Red Queen poke’s fun at the North Korean dear leader Kim Jong Il.
Alice in Wonderland – especially the 3-D version – is nothing less than a contemporary cinematographic extravaganza, director Tim Burton should be praised for having an eye for detail for the little things. That Martin Scorsese like eye for detain in the scene where the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and Alice (Mia Wasikowska) are in the Quite Queen’s somewhat over-lit kitchen / apothecary. Where Alice’s tiny and delicately blonde arm hairs got iridescently emphasized by the overly lit atmosphere of the White Queen’s kitchen / apothecary. Not to mention Mia Wasikowska’s brilliant make-up team that allowed her delicate blonde lashes to shine through. Probably reminding everyone that there is a G-Rated way to tell if the carpet matches the drapes – or is it making us movie geeks with Y-chromosomes nostalgic about our middle-school era Swedish exchange student crushes.