I watched “Alice Through the Looking Glass” to get inside a fantasy land, join Lewis Carroll’s heroine inside the mirror, down Underland, through the bowels of the great clock of Time, into the Past and back to the Present.
“Time” that magical being, with a human hand on one side and a mechanical one on the other, held court on a black throne in Eternity’s Castle, admonished, “You cannot change the past. It always was. It always will be. Although I dare say, you might learn something from it.”
“The passage of time is something Alice has always regarded as a bad thing, because time took her father from her at a very early age,” says Director James Bobin. “What she learns in this story is that time isn’t her enemy but is something that can be appreciated.”
That’s why screenwriter, Linda Woolverton, made “Time” an actual character in the movie.
And Time was quite a scene-stealer, contemplating an eternity of pocket watches dangling in space, each of which representing a soul,
Nevertheless, “Editing Lewis Carroll is close to impossible,” commented Johnny Depp, who played the Mad Hatter. “You have to come at it with another angle but still keep it focused on the source, which Linda did brilliantly.”
Although the producers of “Alice in Wonderland” talked of a second film, they’ve always known they can’t do a straight adaptation of Carroll’s second book.
“The ‘Looking Glass’ book is essentially a bunch of random and bizarre episodes from Carroll’s life which don’t bear any relation to one other,” producer Suzanne Todd explained.
“So we had discussions about what would be interesting thematically and what we wanted the story to convey.”
Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska), the head-strong young woman raised in Victorian London who is a dreamer and a non-conformist, was 19 in the first film.
In this sequel, she’s on the cusp of adulthood, having spent the past three years living her dream and sailing the high seas as captain of her own ship.
Returning to London, she finds that the antiquated views about women’s role in society remained unchanged and the future she saw for herself seemed more remote than ever.
While attending a reception at the home of Lord Ascot – the man she spurned now married to another woman, Alice is overcome with emotions as the corporate landlubbers who own her ship betray her.
She storms out of the party, spots Absolem (Alan Rickman), transformed to a blue Monarch butterfly, who leads her to escape through the magical looking glass in the Ascot mansion, back to the fantastical realm of Underland.
There, she is reunited with her friends the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the dormouse (Barbara Windsor), the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse), the Tweedles (Matt Lucas) and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who, unfortunately, is not himself.
The Hatter has lost his Muchness. He’s dying.
To save him, Mirana (Anne Hathaway), the mild mannered and kind White Queen and beautiful younger sister to the spiteful Red Queen, dispatches Alice to seek out Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Time, an odd creature, part human, part clock, inhabits the void of infinitude and holds the Chronosphere, a metallic globe cum time machine, which will transport Alice to the Oceans of Time back to the Past to save the Hatter’s family from being roasted by the Jabberwocky.
The White Queen believes this is the only way to keep the Hatter alive.
The pugnacious Red Queen, Iracebeth (Helena Bonham Carter), remains in exile, having been banished to the Outlands by her sister, where she has befriended Time and is plotting to steal the Chronosphere for herself. Oh, but how deliciously wicked she was.
Alice returns to the past, crossing paths with friends and enemies at different points in their lives, and sets off on race across the Oceans of Time to escape Iracebeth and Time and save the Hatter before time runs out.
Interestingly, “Mirana is not all that perfect. She has some of her sister Iracebeth’s darkness in her veins but she keeps it very repressed,” Anne maintained. “While she’s still on the good side, there’s a lot more going on than we first realized.”
“Our director’s really brilliant,” Mia noted. “He’s taken the spectacular world Tim Burton created in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, given it style and depth of emotion, making it his own. He genuinely loves the story and pushed for more of an emotional connection between all the characters.”
As for her own role, “Alice is a great character because she’s very much her own person, and after returning from her travels where she was captain of her own ship has gained more confidence and is filled with a sense of inspiration and excitement.”
“Alice, as written by Lewis Carroll, was very forward-thinking for the time,” the director stressed. “She’s almost out of place because she’s a strong female character in a very patriarchal, Victorian society…sort of a modern woman in an old-fashioned society.”