If you’re a fan of the various forms of puppetry, here’s a version of the Caterpillar scene from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as performed by a trio of puppeteers who also work at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Manhattan’s Central Park. For this clip, they use both marionettes and shadow puppets. If the video doesn’t appear below, try reloading this page. Enjoy!
From the “You can’t make this stuff up (unless maybe you’re Lewis Carroll)” Department comes this entertaining news item from the UK. It seems a florist in Blackburn had a wooden figure of the Disney Caterpillar in her store’s window display, complete with a faux hookah. A local protection officer was walking by the shop, and became concerned that the Caterpillar was breaking the local ordinance against smoking in the workplace. No, really. Or that the shopkeeper was actually running an illicit hookah den. To read the whole silly story and see photos of the Caterpillar caught in the non-act, click me.
Thanks to one of our mimsiest minions for sharing this little gem of a story. What would Lewis Carroll have said?
“ALICE IN WONDERLAND. TWEEDLE DUM & TWEEDLE DEE ON THE WAY TO WEMBLEY” by Joe O’Donovan.
This May, a London jeweller-turned-artist named Joe O’Donovan displayed his new series of “Alice in Wonderland” paintings at the Marleybone Library in Westminster. The West End Extrareported that “among the works is a picture of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, who the 57-year-old acrylics painter has reimagined as a pair of hardnut football fans on their way to a distinctly retro Wembley Stadium.” Indeed, and O’Donovanhimself describes the pair on his websitein more detail:
Yes, the Skinheads as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, circa 1960 on the way to the White Towers, Wembley Stadium, England, remember THAT world cup!
With their signature style of working-class lad wear, Fred Perry t-shirts, Doctor Martens boots – Ox blood colour, red braces; down and ready for action, and of course the turned-up Wranglers, Lee’s or Levi’s.
I have fond memories of this time, as a young boy myself, I saw these lads as hard working young men, originating their own modern style of affordable clothing with a love for Ska music and an affinity for their West Indian mates. Trojan music still inspires me to stomp, lol.
Things do change but honest, fond memories cannot be corrupted by later hijackers of the style.
With these two fun characters from Alice in Wonderland, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, doing what they do best, which is being themselves. Here is a painting to awaken the glory of Bobby Moore’s England squad in all of us. A pride in your nation is your right no matter what your ethnic origin, if your here your English, and welcome! Come on England!
That’s poetry, mate. Glicee prints are available through O’Donovan’s website. Also, his caterpillar is Albert Einstein:
“ALICE IN WONDERLAND. ‘IT’S ALBERT ACTUALLY!’, SAID THE CATERPILLAR” by Joe O’Donovan
Roger Daltrey, former lead singer of The Who, is to lend his voice to the Caterpillar in a Wonderland-themed episode of the ABC show Once Upon a Time. The executive producers of the show apparently said that The Who’s rock opera “Tommy” was “a huge inspiration for the show,” so, who could be better, really?
“Once Upon a Time” is a fantasy drama set in Storybrooke, Maine, a fictional town populated by fairy tale characters who have been exiled to the real world. The episode, entitled “Hat Trick,” will air on Sunday, March 25th on ABC. Other guest stars will include Sebastian Stan as the Hatter, who you may (or may not) remember as the bad guy in the movie Hot Tub Time Machine. In the episode, producer Edward Kitsis promises, “we find out how the Mad Hatter became mad.”
Sebastien Stan as the Mad Hatter in "Once Upon a Time"
A writer named Steve A Wiggins (“part-time Academic” & “failed priest” according to his bio) wonders on his blog Sects & Violence in the Ancient Worldabout screenwriter Linda Woolverton’s choice in naming the caterpillar the biblical name Absalom:
Supposing this to be nothing more than the reassignment of a fated biblical name associated with failed attempts at kingship, I simply let the reference pass. Until the chrysalis scene. There he was, Absalom hanging from a plant, just like David’s son swayed from a tree according to 2 Samuel. This mysterious scene in the battle of Ephraim Forest had captured my attention before when I wrote an article on Absalom, eventually published in the Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages.
When Lewis Carroll published a few thousand copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, with no hype or buzz, it received some mixed reviews. That’s one of the few things Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland has in common with Carroll’s original stories. The critics were out this week, and occasionally perceptive. As of this morning, the “top critics” that Rotten Tomatoes tracks average at about 59% (between rotten tomato and ripe tomato), with the general masses giving it about 53%. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, one of my favorite critics to disagree with, had some interesting insight into the Alice Paradox in movies:
Dark and sometimes grim, this isn’t your great-grandmother’s Alice or that of Uncle Walt, who was disappointed with the 1951 Disney version of “Alice in Wonderland.” “Alice has no character,” said a writer who worked on that project. “She merely plays straight man to a cast of screwball comics.” Of course the character of Carroll’s original Alice is evident in each outrageous creation she dreams up in “Wonderland” and in the sequel, “Through the Looking-Glass,” which means that she’s a straight man to her own imagination. (She is Wonderland.) Here she mostly serves as a foil for the top biller Johnny Depp, who (yes, yes) plays the Mad Hatter, and Mr. Burton’s bright and leaden whimsies.
Her conclusion, however, is vague and baffling:
This isn’t an impossible story to translate to the screen, as the Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer showed with “Alice” (1988), where the divide between reality and fantasy blurs as it does in dreams. It’s just hard to know why Mr. Burton, who doesn’t seem much interested in Alice, bothered.
The great Roger Ebert, at the Chicago Sun-Times, admits he didn’t care for the books growing up, which possibly explains some of his strange tangents:
This has never been a children’s story. There’s even a little sadism embedded in Carroll’s fantasy. It reminds me of uncles who tickle their nieces until they scream. “Alice” plays better as an adult hallucination, which is how Burton rather brilliantly interprets it until a pointless third act flies off the rails. It was a wise idea by Burton and his screenwriter, Linda Woolverton, to devise a reason that Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is now a grown girl in her late teens, revisiting a Wonderland that remains much the same, as fantasy worlds must always do.
Burton shows us Wonderland as a perturbing place where the inhabitants exist for little apparent reason other than to be peculiar and obnoxious. Do they reproduce? Most species seem to have only one member, as if nature quit while she was ahead.
How could he not develop that shocking exposée? Who was the Duchess’s baby daddy? Is there a Mrs. Mock Turtle!? I wish Carroll was around to explain the laws of dream procreation.
One more quote, I’ll give Elizabeth Weizman of New York Daily News my highly coveted Saying Nothing Award:
“Frabjous” may be a word Carroll invented, but Burton knows just what it means, at least in his own mind. He’s clearly excited to invite us inside, and as long as you’re open to so much muchness, you’ll be very glad he did.
This parsing of critics possibly to be continued… In the meantime, I have several questions:
-How come no one has discussed the influence of Miranda Richardson’s Queen Elizabeth I from BBC’s “Blackadder II” (1986) on Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen?
-Why was the Dodgson-esque figure named Charles at the beginning Alice’s dead father? What?
-Did the bizarre Chinese trade-route plot-line at the finale, which was guided on by the blue butterfly (née Caterpillar), have anything to do with opium (i.e., the possible contents of the Caterpillar’s pipe)? I know it was 2am and I had a headache from two hours of drinking wine in an IMAX with 3D glasses, but I think I may be onto a possible explanation for the otherwise unexplainable China thing.
I just noticed that Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland is rated PG “for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.” Wonderful! Disney’s 1951 version, which also contains a smoking caterpillar, is rated simply G. Therefore, since All Scotchmen are Non-Dragons, and a fish with three rows of teeth is not to be despised, it would follow that it was not that hookah-smoking caterpillar which increased the rating from G to PG.
Smoking in movies is of course a contentious issue, with many organizations and websites tracking Hollywood for how it portrays tobacco use. (There’s something called the “Hackademy Awards”, presented by the Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, for smoke-free movies. Nine, for instance, got last year’s biggest Thumbs Down for “lavishly promoting cigarette and cigar smoking as emblems of sexiness, wealth, power, coolness and relaxation.”) Shisha is not something they come across very often, so I’m curious to see how this goes down.
Alan Rickman (the great actor famous for his Professor Severus Snape) is playing the voice of the Caterpillar in the new film!