Published in 1865 Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and six years later in 1871 came “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There” both of which captivated readers around the world. In the latest iterations of the classics with “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010 and now six years later as well comes “Alice Through the Looking Glass” both of which are visually stunning interpretations that will continue to captivate audiences for years to come.
For years the producers of “Alice in Wonderland” talked of a second film, but knew one thing for certain: the film would not be a straight adaptation of Carroll’s second book. “The ‘Looking Glass’ book is essentially a bunch of random and bizarre episodes from Carroll’s life which don’t bear any relation to one other,” explains producer Suzanne Todd (the “Austin Powers” films, “Memento,” “Across the Universe”), “So we had discussions about what would be interesting thematically and what we wanted the story to convey, but we just weren’t there yet.”
When it came time to find a director to take on the next chapter in Alice’s story, the producers knew it had to be someone special, as the bar had been set fairly high with Tim Burton on the first film. “Everyone was in agreement that the tone of this new film should be somewhat lighter and more comedic,” says producer Joe Roth (“Maleficent,” “Snow White and the Huntsman”), “And James Bobin turned out to be the man. He knows comedy, loves history and is intelligent, creative, and the kind of person people want to be around.”
You cannot change the past. It always was. It always will be.
Although I dare say, you might learn something from it….-Time
During a recent press conference, we had the opportunity to hear from Director James Bobin, Producer Suzanne Todd, Mia Wasikowska (Alice Kingsleigh), and Anne Hathaway (The White Queen) about various aspects of the movie.
Q: Why did you decide to produce this movie, and why now?
Todd: It took us a long time after the first movie to really come up with an idea that we felt was worth taking on. We went back into the literature, we went back into what was so popular for 150 years and themes came up that interested us; time, the preciousness of time, the importance of spending time with loved ones and what a kickass girl can do if she sets her mind to it.
Q: Blending multiple worlds and being that this is your first experience with CGI animation, how do you pay homage to what comes before and retain that essence, but put your spin on it?
Bobin: It’s a question of tone, and tone is the result of a million decisions over the course of the production of the move. It was something I was incredibly aware of. I saw Tim’s first movie and it looked absolutely beautiful. It set some parameters in order for the movie to work. This film was set in another time period, a different geographical location and I felt I needed to bring something from myself into it as well. I felt we couldn’t tell the story of the book because of the cause and effect and how it all starts to blend but I wanted to pay tribute in that it was a story he could appreciate. I think he would appreciate the idea of time travel which I wanted to keep, while having time be a person was Carroll’s idea. It was Carroll who wrote it in the book. It’s incorporating these elements of Carroll’s story whilst maintaining a Tim world and bringing something of what you think those things are.
Todd: When you talk about the achievement of the tone and look, it is thousands and thousands if not millions of decisions. We were very lucky in many cases to have Danny Elfman come back to do the score, and Colleen Atwood who won an Oscar for the first Alice to come back and do the costumes. We had a big production designer Dan Hennah, another academy award winner who we were very lucky to have. We chose someone who really fit in and helped James honor what Tim had done and push it into something fresh and new that was James’ thing. Ken Rosling doing the visual effects obviously helped. It was millions of decisions.
Q: How do the themes in the movie like time working against you, being a female, and being put in a box relate to you and how close it hits home to you especially in this business and being actresses?
Wasikowska: There are so many messages in this film that I think are really great. Even with just the message of time being that there are always things that we wish we could do different in the past but the best way to have peace with it is to accept it and then move forward and not try to change things. I guess it’s an anomaly to have a big summer blockbuster to have a female lead and I guess it’s strange that it’s unusual and hopefully that’ll become more normalized.
Hathaway: There was one scene that I was surprised to find myself really crying during, and it was the scene where Alice wakes up and she’s in the mental institution, and the reasons that she was committed were being excitable, imaginative, and typical female hysteria. They tried to inject her with a drug to dull her and to make her less heself and more controllable. She fights back and she turns it around and she winds up injecting him with it. I was bursting with pride to be in a movie that is taking the narrative back. I’m really proud to work with a company like Disney who’s really looking at who it has been and whether or not it wants to continue being that. They look at the stories they put out into the world and now they have the courage to revise them based on what we know and how we have evolved.
Directed by James Bobin, “Alice Through the Looking Glass” stars; Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter), Anne Hathaway (The White Queen), Mia Wasikowska (Alice Kingsleigh), Matt Lucas (Tweedledee/Tweedledum), Helena Bonham Carter (The Queen of Hearts), and introduces new characters played by Rhys Ifans (Zanik Hightopp), and Sacha Baron Cohen (Time). Also featured are the voices of Alan Rickman (Absolem), Stephen Fry (Cheshire Cat), Michael Sheen (White Rabbit), Timothy Spall (Bayard), Barbara Windsor (Dormouse), Paul Whitehouse (March Hare), and newcomer Matt Vogel (Wilkins). The producers are Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd, and Tim Burton, with John G. Scott as executive producer.
Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” which is presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D, opens in U.S. theaters on May 27, 2016.
Watch the full trailer below: