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Great Expectations 2010: Tim Burton in Wonderland

February 11, 2010  |  8:30am
Great Expectations 2010: Tim Burton in Wonderland

Down the rabbit hole with Alice

Collectively, every contemporary film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland has been one long practice round for the inevitable Tim Burton version. Dozens of filmmakers have tackled this mysterious hallmark of children’s lit, beginning with Cecil Hepworth’s rickety first adaptation in 1903. This March, more than a century later, eccentric visualist Burton will unveil his own. Frankly, it’s a marvel he and Alice didn’t meet sooner.

Along with screenwriter Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast), Burton has reshaped the classic story—Alice is now a 19-year-old Victorian girl who pines to escape the era’s restraints. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Alice has elevated Burton’s distinct visual ethos to new extremes. The initial shoot lasted just 40 days—far fewer than is typical for a project this big. The rest of the time was spent filling out the exuberant digital vistas that will flood the screen.

Throughout Burton’s celebrated career, the most obvious constant has been his devotion to aggressive visual design, and in that respect Alice in Wonderland is poised to be his consummate work. The movie will join the growing chorus of Hollywood films set to employ advances in 3D as an immersive tool rather than a kitschy ticket-seller.

It’ll also expand the role of the famous Mad Hatter. Playing the part? In his seventh collaboration with Burton, none other than Johnny Depp.

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