Tim Burton's dark Alice in Wonderland continues its success by winning last night's first Academy Award. Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara accepted the Oscar for Art Direction for their work in Alice in Wonderland. Later, the winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Costume was Collen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland. She had certainly been heavily promoted as a possibility even before the film came out.
Great article in the Chicago Tribune on former Chicagoan Karen O'Hara on what was involved in Art Direction for Alice in Wonderland. While art directors and producers used to get their actual objects on the set, in this CGI-enhanced Alice, O'Hara worked with the computer graphics people to take the images she had found and put them into CGI.
She explains:"There's a huge department on films nowadays that creates the environments in 3-D on a computer, based on paintings and other research that the production designer has put together," she said. "What I do is, I bring in all the items that are going to decorate those areas, just as they would be in a complete live-action movie. I photograph those items and then those get built in 3-D in the computer. Then I sit with the computer artists and place those objects in the environment. Everything that's in that rabbit hole that Alice falls through — and there were hundreds of items: a piano, pictures, pieces of jewelry, a large sofa, a bed — all those pieces need to be figured out."
In this backstage interview after winning the Academy Award, Robert Stromberg also explains that during his acceptance speech he put a little Mad Hatter hat on the Oscar. Cute!
I am sure that Lewis Carroll would have been both appalled and intrigued by the Academy Award Show last night. As a man who loved theatre, just being with all those actors would have thrilled him. But he was more conservative than many assume and he might have found some aspects a little tawdry or risque.