Looks like we'll have to go back to Disneyland to see the new Alice section in the revamped Disney California Adventure. This Alice is inspired by the weird, colorful word of Tim Burton's film that's re-imagined through the theme park lens. It's a House of Cards nightclub that opens in the evening with arcade and a rock band headed up by a Mad Hatter channeling Mick Jagger and a White Rabbit dj channeling deadmau5. The caterpillar dance in channeling Pilobus dancers. Alice is channeling Ashley Tisdale from High School the Musical. Check out the video here. Maybe just a little squeaky clean, or just squeaky teen Disney, but still seems fun.
Entries in Lewis Carroll (32)
Charles Dodgson traveled on a boat ride on "a golden afternoon" with Alice Liddell and her sisters and began an imaginative story about a girl falling down a rabbit hole. Alice loved that story and encouraged Dodgson to write the story down. Thus began the first telling of the story that would become Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The boat ride was 150 years ago on July 4, 1862. The book would be published in 1865 under the very careful scrutiny of Lewis Caroll, Dodgson's nom de plume, with illustrations by John Tenniel, the famous Punch cartoonist.
And in Oxford, England, they're celebrating the Caucus Race this weekend. It's the fifth year that the town where Lewis Carroll lived most of his adult life is celebrating his work and imagination. If we lived nearby, I am sure we would be there.
It will be exciting to learn about all the events planned for the 150th publication year coming up soon.
Mix up traditional fairy tale characters such as Snow White, Prince Charming and Rumplestilskin with literary fairy tale characters such as Pinnochio, the Blue Fairy and perhaps someone from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with a dose of contemporary fantasy and modern sensibility. One result is a new television series on Sunday nights on ABC, Once Upon a Time. This show is for families and fantasy fans while on the darker, flip side fairy tales get the law-and-order, violent treatment with Grimm beginning this Friday night on NBC.
Once Upon a Time intends to draw in readers of Harry Potter as well as the many YA, middle-school and adult books, such as Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series, E. J. Patten's new Return to Exile series, Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted and her subsequent princess books, Shannon Hale's The Princess Academy series, Cressida Cowell's How to Train a Dragon series, the Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series in chapter book and graphic novels, etc. Combining fairy tales with fantasy and contemporary realism has become a popular story well to mine, accompanied by the elves and dwarves who know the way through the tunnels.
Once Upon a Time stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White and Josh Dallas as Prince Charming who are cursed by a wicked witch played by Lana Parrilla. The witch's curse seems to be that the characters are transformed into the creepy world of 21st century Storybrook, Maine.
Not that long ago some book publishers, librarians, and adults directing children to books decided that kids did not want to read fairy tales or fantasy. J.K. Rowlings opened up the floodgates by proving them wrong. Kids enjoy the excitement, dark turns with usually happy endings, romance, and swashbuckling adventures in these kids of books. So, it seems that it's about time that television has figured out that a series that interweaves these kinds of tales while still having a PG sensibility might work.
Obviously, I've just seen one episode and the series is laying the groundwork for the complicated material that is bound to come later. I do want to point out that there is a significant difference between traditional fairy tales that the Grimms and others collected and literary fairy tales created by one author, such as Lewis Carroll or L. Frank Baum. It's just a little unsettling to see the two mixed up so freely here.
It's not surprising that Once Upon a Time has roots in the mysterious series Lost; two of that series writers – Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis -- are the creators of this show. They also worked on the tightly crafted Felicity.
"We love the mish-mash,” Kitsis told the Hollywood Reporter last summer about scenes in which Geppetto interacts with Grumpy, etc. Maybe so, but the mish-mash may become a little confusing as viewers make the connection between fairy tale time and contemporary times. For instance, Snow White becomes the beloved teacher Sister Mary Margaret in Storybrook. Or remembering Rumplestilskin from the Shrek films and then from fairy tales and then trying to remember exactly why he was bad.
Maybe there's a need for a fairy tale quick guide.
Today would be Mary Blair's 100th birthday and to celebrate Google created a Google Doodle inspired by Mary Blair's art. Very cool!
Just wanted to mention again that I have a chapter in my book, The Place of Lewis Carroll in Children's Literature, on the Alice in Wonderland book that uses Mary Blair's original artwork for the Disney film and Jon Scieszka's adaptation. That chapter essay, "Show Me, Don't (Re)Tell Me: Jon Scieszka Revisits Wonderland" is available in .pd format here. Blair's work continues to show an amazing imagination but the usually funny and clever Scieszka seems a little intimated by adapating Carroll's work. I'm working on a few other ideas related to Mary Blair's art as well.
Go Mary Blair!
Mary Blair's amazing artwork for Disney is the topic of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 17th Marc Davis Celebration of Animation lecture tomorrow night. Looks like a fun, interesting panel the creators from Disney and Pixar who've worked on Toy Story 3, Monsters, Inc., Aladdin, Up, Pocahontas and more. Of course, the panel is already sold out, but it would be great to be a fly on the wall.
I'm fascinated by Blair's work. I included a chapter in my recent book, The Place of Lewis Carroll in Children's Literature, about the re-working of Alice in Wonderland by Jon Scieszka using the art that Blair created for Disney as an inspiration for his animated film. Not the best Alice adaptation because Scieszka doesn't bring his usual humor and confidence to Blair's dark and stylized work.
When we were in Disneyland during the summer, we were able to see an exhibit on Mary Blair's work. I thought that the panel talk would be a good opportunity to post some of the photos from that exhibit. The exhibit was near the entryway to Disneyland in the area on Main Street devoted to the history of Walt Disney and the theme park. It's one of my favorite sections because the older Disneyland is the one that seeped into my imagination while watching the Sunday night Disney television and The Mickey Mouse Club.
Looking at the photos again, which are obviously not perfect photos, reminds me how much Mary Blair was inspired by Henri Matisse cutouts.