"Alice in Wonderland" in Adaptation: What Makes it so Difficult?

Lewis Carroll’s nonsense novel has seen endless variation in adaption across all forms of media, but how many of these are actually successful? Look at both the more faithful adaptions (Disney, the 1999 TV Movie), and the "darker" or somehow radically different ones (American McGee’s Alice, The Looking Glass Wars). Compare some of the adaptions which are similar in tone, like Tim Burton’s recent film and American McGee, or the Disney film and the TV Movie, with an eye for determining, which one does what it’s trying to do better (e.g., a faithful translation from book to film, a darker take), while examining what makes adaptation of this novel so difficult.

  • One of my favorite adaptations is actually the 1999 TV movie. That's likely an incredibly nostalgia-based opinion since I watched it a lot during my early childhood. Nevertheless, it's one of my favorites because it still retains the intelligence of the book. I wasn't a huge fan of the Tim Burton version (although I still haven't seen the sequel yet) since it was more of a fantasy action-adventure story involving good versus evil. For me, it lacked a bit of Lewis Carroll's signature wit whereas the 1999 version did a good job of showing just how ridiculous and nonsensical the adult world can be through the eyes of a child. – aprosaicpintofpisces 6 years ago
  • You could also reference the difficulties of crafting a screenplay, which follows many story rules, compared to the wandering nature of Alice in Wonderland. Think of The Wizard of Oz--it has a similar path, but the character journey and story structure are quite traditional. ALICE takes more liberties. – Nate OcĂ©an 6 years ago
  • You read my mind... Been thinking about a way to make Alice reverberate to contemporary minds, as I, like you, first experienced it as young child. It's a tale that always prods and pokes at the right strings in the pivotal moment. Meaning, I walked away from Alice as soon as first grade was over, only to find that Wizard of Oz was faithfully waiting in the wings of second grade. Third grade weighed in with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, just as I figured I'd seen it all. (High school brought the MTV variety, with Tom Petty's Alice.) Can it get any meaner? Peter and the Wolf? Write this one as a classic, in and of itself, shouldn't be hard to do, with such a fan base. – lofreire 5 years ago

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