1. Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland features a much younger protagonist, with an Alice around seven entering Wonderland. Carroll’s Alice seems to be about the protagonist growing older, as she continually goes through physical changes that sadden her, most of which make her larger. Although Carroll’s Alice seemingly goes through a nonsensical, dream-like journey, she is also confronted with danger and threats of death, like the “off with its head” calls of the Queen of Hearts.
2. The film is a modified take of Carroll’s original work. Burton’s Alice is an older version of Carroll’s Alice, while the themes of the original are changed, although the film does keep the lost innocence idea in its initial stages. Instead of Alice’s physical changes in Wonderland alluding to her physical changes and growth over the years, Alice’s pending marriage against her will serves as both the device to get her into Wonderland and the driving force behind her change. In the original story, Alice is only under the threat of danger, while in the film Alice confronts danger by fighting the Jabberwocky in combat.
3. The 2010 film very loosely adapts the original story in the transition to film. In the film Alice is much older, but this decision and the artistic style of the film are done to cater to a wider audience. Because of this the movie had to undergo significant changes, such as the aging of Alice and the addition of action scenes like killing the Jabberwocky, and ideas of marriage and independence. Those more adult themes and content dilute the amount the film functions as a true adaptation of the book.
This article tackled the notion that Alice in Wonderland was feminist; despite criticism over the general structure of the film, the author noted that the strength displayed by the character and their status as a hero without marriage as signs of a feminist movie.
Ebert’s review of the film noted something I found strange as well–most of the species seem to only have one member, which he looks to believe is a decision by Burton to make them more obnoxious and peculiar.
This article talks about a common vein of “living backwards” and retreating to innocence and imagination in Burton’s films. Burton’s films feature characters with stable identities that run into disturbing differences and Alice in Wonderland is no different than his other films. Alice quite literally runs into those disturbing differences in her journey through Wonderland, which she previously experienced when she was younger (innocent) and free-spirited (imaginative). The author also believes Burton’s teenage Alice is meant to resemble the current generation–that she is part of the “me” generation and eventually comes to realize everything is subject to her will.
5. If removed, Burton’s engagement party framing device would change the way the film would be interpreted, because with the device the film serves as more of a reboot than an exact adaptation, and without the device the “daddy issues” and development Alice goes through during the film wouldn’t make sense. In the film, Alice has lost her father and leaves her engagement party (to a man she dislikes) when she falls down the rabbit hole; the set-up of the film to use an older version of serves the film to make it more of a reboot or sequel because it features a much older, more world-weary character than the younger Alice of Carroll’s story, who is simply bored of sitting near a riverbank. Her development through the movie culminates in her stand against her family when she returns to the party, but her development would be lost without the “daddy issues” caused by her father’s passing and the engagement party framing device, because it wouldn’t make sense for her to realize she controls her own destiny and make a stand without the animosity shown in the early stages of the film.