Synopsis: The books, written by a mild stuttering bachelor lecturer of mathematics, that told the adventures of a little girl who fell down a rabbit hole into a wonderland, and later, went through a mirror into a looking-glass world, have sold more copies than any other book except The Bible. Alice was the name of that little girl, who not only became the heroine of these tales, but was also the name of the child who inspired the writer, Lewis Carroll, to exercise his genius.
This program examines the coming together of the writer and his muse, the society they inhabited, and their relationship that is still the subject of much controversy, as well as the effect it had on their subsequent lives.
Alice: A Look into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and at the curious relationship between Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll 7.5
Having watched a couple of Alice in Wonderland-related films already, but having never actually read the book, I felt that it might be advisable for me to explore the back history of Lewis Carroll’s creation.
This documentary on Lewis Carroll (né Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) uses Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as its starting point, book-ending references to the original Alice on whom Carroll based his works, but it mostly revolves around the author, providing a short biography of the man all the while linking as much of his life with the book. It was rather fascinating to hear about the real-life inspirations for Carroll’s creations.
We also discover as much about the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Little as is apparently documented: how he befriended the Little family and became attached (if not somewhat obsessed) with the little Alice Little – with rumours being that he even asked for her hand in marriage once she would come of age. Sadly, their later alienation remains unexplained, as Carroll’s journals from that period are missing – so the portrait is incomplete.
For whatever reason, Carroll had a fondness for the company of children and frequently hung out with young girls; he gravitated from one family to the next after being pushed away by the Little family, perhaps in a quest to replace Alice. Nowadays, in the shadows of Michael Jackson, it’s hard to see anything but the creepiest of intentions. Still, we don’t actually know what was on his mind. And I wonder how his behaviour was perceived then (this was unexplored in the film).
A large part of the programme recounts in detail the story of the first book (with the help of footage from the 1915 silent film), which could be tedious to people who are already familiar with it. Inexplicably, the documentary only barely mentions the sequel, ‘Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There’, even though it was a larger seller at the time.
And yet ‘Alice’ is heavy on other details, going through historical figures and anecdotes at a rate which could make one’s head spin. Evidently, this is excellent if one is in the mood to learn extensively, but it’s almost essential to be 100% alert and/or take notes. Furthermore, the narration is extremely sober, like listening to a college professor – but with the aid of pictures. Frankly, I wished that there had been subtitles to support the narrator’s accent and to help the me focus on the massive amount of info.
But, all in all, it was an eye-opening and informative brief on Lewis Carroll and his oeuvre. ‘Alice: A Look into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ may not be as thorough as a biography proper, but it does as credible a job as any fully fleshed out Wiki entry would – but with many visual aids and a more dynamic approach. I’d certainly recommend this to fans of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and of the author. At least, those not already extensively familiar with both.