Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is a delightfully twisted take on the world created by Lewis Carroll in 1865. With a return of the classic characters, setting, themes, and an all-star cast; this movie blew me away. I saw it in theaters in 3D, and I have to say, they managed this effect well. I think that recently, 3D has become so accessible that it is being way overdone. Alice, however, uses it subtly using it to enhance the action, rather than distract from it. The only thing I would have liked to see more of is the relationship between Alice and the Mad Hatter, as that story seemed a bit underdeveloped and left me wanting more.

The costume designer for Alice in Wonderland was Colleen Atwood. She happens to be my favorite designer and has worked on many Tim Burton films. Atwood won an Academy Award this year for her work on Alice, which I think is truly deserved. The costumes are distinctively Tim Burton-esque, but do more than serve the purpose of defining the directors’ style…

Alice enters Underland in the classic blue dress, showing her innocence and attachment to the upper world. By the end, however, she has donned a resplendent suit of armor which displays gained strength and the sense of self that she has acquired throughout the story. While pleasing to the eye, the armor is not overly decorative and serves it's purpose.


The Red and White Queens show opposite takes on what appears to be a late Renaissance inspired style. The White Queen’s gown is light and delicate, while still incorporating some historical elements. The Red Queen’s dress draws from the more traditional darker tones of that era, as well as the repeated use of straight design lines to give a heavier and tighter feel. I think that the Renaissance style evokes a sense of power appropriate to a queen, as one thinks of the great Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I.

The Mad Hatter’s outfit is loosely Victorian. Johnny Depp describes his character as being sort of like a mood ring, his emotions constantly changing. The Hatter’s costume is also a bit like a mood ring, reflecting on his fickle moods with wild colors and patterns. The hat itself has become an icon for the movie.

The costumes of the rest of the cast are well developed. The White Rabbit, the Dormouse, and the other creatures of the Red Queen’s court are dressed in heart-themed livery, and the Knave of Hearts is formidable in his black leather (not to mention that creepy eye patch!) The court members for both queens enhance and support their queen’s respective style. For the most part, all of the other costumes give a nod towards Carroll’s Victorian times, and enforce the historical background of the story.

Overall, I loved this movie. It's plot was inventive and it's costumes were spot-on. I hope there will be another Burton/Atwood collaboration very soon!

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