tek's rating: ½

Alice Through the Looking Glass, on Channel 4 (UK)
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So, this first aired in Britian in 1998, but the first time I saw it, here in the States... well, I don't remember when it was, exactly, but I think it must have been at least a few years into the 2000s, possibly as late as 2010. I doubt it could have been as late as 2011. Anyway, I was channel surfing one day, and came across this movie, somewhere in the middle. I stopped and watched a bit of it, because of how absurd it was, and because I could not help but wonder... who was the stunningly gorgeous woman playing Alice? A little web searching told me it was Kate Beckinsale (whom I'd surely seen before in other things, but didn't recognize here). Anyway, I didn't see much of the movie, then, but some time later I bought the DVD for very cheap, probably in 2011, but I can't remember that for sure, either. And I finally watched it in 2012.

It begins with a woman (Beckinsale) reading Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" to her daughter. The woman is clearly very tired, on the verge of falling asleep, which might explain what happens next. I mean, maybe she just dreamt it all, while trying to read the book. Anyway, her daughter insists that she's seen a different room in her mirror, and convinces her mother to try to see it, as well, and try to step into that world. Which she does. And it seems as if she becomes Alice. She clearly has no recollection of being a mother, and even believes herself to be seven and a half years old, which no one she encounters seems to doubt. These include the Red Queen, the White Queen, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Humpty Dumpty, the White King, the White Knight, a couple of different insects who take on human form (one near the beginning, and one near the end, the latter of which is based on a scene that was cut from the original book, but later restored). And... various other people and creatures.

I'm not entirely sure how closely the movie follows the actual story, though for the most part it seems to include the major points, though they may have been slightly altered (and some things may have been left out). Certainly, there are times that Alice recites snippets of the book, in asides, whether to herself or the audience I don't know, or maybe it's some half awake part of her still reading the story to her daughter. Anyway... the progression of events is supposed to be set up like a chessboard, with Alice moving from square to square, starting from the second square as a pawn, with the ultimate goal of reaching the eighth square and becoming a queen, herself. As she moves to each new square (through a kind of shimmery portal that appears when each scene is over), her hair ornamentation always seems to change. Possibly her dress changes too, but I didn't notice that every time. Sometimes definitely, and certainly at the end her dress and hairstyle change. Oh, I also need to mention that some of the characters she meets tell her stories or poems, and the scenes of the storytellers and Alice are intercut with visualizations of the stories they're telling. It was some very odd editing.

Well, whatever. It was just a very odd movie, all around. Which is fitting, since the two Alice books (this movie is based on the second) are among the oddest things ever written. The characters are all quite ridiculous, and it's surprising how long it takes Alice to get completely fed up with it. But eventually she does find herself back home, with her daughter. And... I don't know what else to say, except I enjoyed the strangeness of it all, but not to the point of thinking it was a really great adaptation of the story. But it was definitely interesting. And the kind of thing I might like to try watching again, if I was doing drugs, or drinking absinthe, or something.

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