Posted by: Kyle M. | November 20, 2009

When You Mix a Cup of Carroll…Part Two.

Chapter 3/ The Dodo Sequence

As we established earlier, Disney’s manner of opening the story was more drawn-out and meaty than Carroll’s version; as the story progresses, however, Disney somewhat curiously chooses to edit and greatly shorten the tale’s whimsical ‘episodes.’

Alice’s filmic encounter with the Dodo is especially brief; while she runs into him later in the movie during her entrapment inside the Rabbit’s house, she exchanges nary a word with him during their initial meeting (following the ‘Pool of Tears’ sequence). Much to the dismay of the fan base, it winds up being a largely ‘throw-away’ scene in the film, and only really serves as added eye-candy for the younger demographic. In the book, the conversation between the two characters encompasses an entire chapter, and is the source of myriad political puns and obscure (to America, at least) cultural allusions (comfits). To a modern editor, the moment may appear to be tedious and non-vital to the immediate plot, but it’s held in high esteem by many fans of Alice (Especially the somewhat iconic ‘Caucus-Race’)*, and I’d imagine that its omission was a severe disappointment.

What was Disney thinking?

This highlights not only another divide between Carroll and Disney as artists, but the notable distinctions between the two mediums in which they worked. For a blockbuster release, an 80-90 minute run time is ideal, for both profit (More showings can occur each day) and audience satisfaction**. Despite the fact that Alice is rather short by book standards, if a beat for beat, line for line adaptation was to be made, it’d be rather lengthy and, to be frank, utterly dull. While a film does not have to be a skeletal, hollow structure that moves from plot point to plot point without time for emotional development, it needs to maintain a healthy pace to keep the audience engaged and invested in its characters (to give an example, some might say Peter Jackson’s King Kong violated this fundamental tenet***). If one is to consider the notion that Disney held very little interest in painting broad political statements with his Alice movie, it’s understandable that he would leave out an extended Dodo sequence.

Understandable as it may be, it’s equally reasonable that fans should still be upset over the decision. I’d ask that they bear in mind the fact that the job of an adaptation is not to completely recreate the original work; other wise, what is the point? Its job is to capture the essence of the original, and project it onto a new format as faithfully and with as much adherence to quality as possible. If Disney needed to sacrifice a fan favorite in the interest of simply crafting a better movie…so be it.

*Note this fan’s demonstration of her regard for the scene: http://artsparktheatre.blogspot.com/2009/05/alice-in-wonderlandthe-caucus-race.html

**An example of those who relish 90 minute films: http://ideas.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/bring-back-the-90-minute-movie/

***A vocal detractor: http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2009/01/king-kong-2005-fantasy-film-review/

Part 1: https://aliceproject4.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/when-you-mix-a-cup-of-carroll-with-a-dash-of-disney/

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Responses

  1. Very well written response. Yes, this happens frequently, leaving out portions upon transferring to picture. Usually fans are disapointed. The reality, as you have said, is it is not practical, possible, or plausible to completely transfer the entire story, word for word, into a movie- a 90-minute one, at that.

    Though here is a question: Being a political statement, whatever it may be, the Caucus Race may have- instead of being left out- been censored out. It was, in fact, a child-centered film.


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