Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Dreamchild produced in association with the Jim Henson Creature Shop is a great film, but really ones of those films you can only watch once because it's so damn depressing. It stars Sir Ian Holm as Charles Dodgeson who would later gain fame under his penname Lewis Carroll. I really can't say enough about Sir Ian. He is probably one of the most underrated actors out there. Was great as Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and made a very chilling Jack the Ripper in From Hell. Probably the only good thing about that movie. The film itself focuses on both Charles Dodgson and his relationship with Alice Liddell.
If the information of the movie is historically accurate, then the man who would be Lewis Carroll was a painfully shy man with an equally painful stutter. And Alice was a mean-spirited little brat that grew up to be a miserable old bag of worms.
You finish watching the film feeling heartbroken for Charles Dodgson. Especially the scene in which Alice and her would be fiance snicker cruelly at him as he tries to recite the Lobster Quadrille before her elder sister finally stands up for him.
I admit, I did finish watching the film with a lump in my throat. The film itself is set later in Alice Liddell life as an old woman trying to reconcile her past association with Charles Dodgson in her mind with the scenes between her and Charles Dodgson set in flashbacks.
She is clearly troubled by her recollections and the movie does brush upon briefly the insinuations made over the years of Dodgson's possibly infatuations with young Alice. But not in a way which suggests he was or wasn't. Alice herself finds it hard to remember as she becomes old and forgetful.
The high point of the film itself is some truly wonderful interpretations of the inhabitant of Wonderland created by the Jim Henson Creature Shop.
Jim Henson had previously done a version (of sorts) of Alice on an episode of The Muppet Show with Brooke Shields. Having seen some of his more fantasy oriented work like the Dark Crystal and Labryinth, I would have loved to have seen Henson do a version of Alice in Wonderland in that vein.
Although the Jim Henson Creature Shop would go on to do the creatures for a 1999 television adaptation of Alice, it would have been great to see Henson do a version of Alice in the style of Labyrinth during his lifetime.
Besides, the 1999 telefilm is probably my least favorite version of the story.
I enjoyed the film. Although it's a frustrating film to watch. But, the all-encompassing message at the end of the film is mutual apology and forgiveness as young Alice and Charles Dodgson reconcile in a fantasty sequence set in Wonderland. A very good cast with Jane Ashner as Mrs. Liddell and Alan Bennett (of Beyond the Fringe Fame) as the voice of the Mock Turtle and the addition of Jim Henson's creations make this a very unique and visually intersting account in the life of both Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson.
It looks as though they finally released the film on DVD, so I would definitely give this film a try if you wish to rent it on Netflix or stop by your local library.
Up next: Tim Burton's vision of Alice... you probably had a feeling I would get to this one...