The Onion’s A.V. Club called out for Hollywood to stop making Alice movies and explore some of Carroll’s other works, like Snark and even Sylvie and Bruno. Well, a bigger budget film adaptation of The Hunting of the Snark is being made (bigger compared to last year’s student film by Peter Pavlakis), directed by Michael McNeff. You can see some pictures at costume designer June Suepunpuck’s website, and there’s a making-of documentary by UCLA MFA students here.
In regards to what we wrote below, that many writers have taken on the theme of “all those awful Alice movies” in anticipation of the imminent Tim Burton 3D one (in seven days!), The Onion‘s A.V. Club lists Lewis Carroll’s Alice books in a series on movies that have been adapted to death. Allow me to quote liberally from “Put the book back on the shelf: Literary works that should never be adapted to film or TV again” (February 17th, 2010):
[...] The world doesn’t need a fifth Indiana Jones movie, or any more big-screen retreads of ’80s cartoons that weren’t that great to begin with. And it especially doesn’t need yet another weak reconceptualization of Romeo And Juliet, or yet another stuffy screen version of Pride And Prejudice to join the wave of them that started back in 1938. In fact, here’s a list of just a few of the literary works that have officially been done to death—and some recommendations for where to find newer, fresher stories just waiting on the page.
Book: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass
Adaptations to date: More than three dozen, notably including the 1951 animated Disney musical version and big-event 1985 and 1999 TV miniseries. Other countries have released their own versions as well; there’s a 24-episode Japanese animated adaptation, an Argentinean mime version, and nationalist versions like 1966’s Alice Of Wonderland In Paris and 1979’sAlice In Spanish Wonderland. Plus, of course, the upcoming Tim Burton sequel to Carroll’s original stories.
Definitive version: The Disney version is probably best known. While it has its own charms, though, it liberally diverges from Carroll’s text, like most Disney adaptations.
Why steer clear? The Alice books are simultaneously two of the most-adapted novels in history, and among the most habitually worst-adapted. Film and TV versions necessarily tend to elide over the original books’ densely packed puns and references, and instead concentrate on spectacle or on drearily plodding through a series of events that should be sprightly and disorienting, yet somehow not manic. It’s a difficult balance, and one that directors rarely seem to get right. What’s left behind is a bunch of creative, fun ideas that have had the creativity and fun leached out through repetition. How many times can we watch Alice grow, shrink, and boggle at it all?
What to adapt instead? Other Carroll works, including his novel Sylvie And Bruno and his poem “The Hunting Of The Snark,” bring in as much clever nonsense, wordplay, and episodic adventure, but are less line-by-line familiar.
Sylvie & Bruno!! How about that? The list continues with A Christmas Carol, The Bible, and other books that will by no means stop inspiring filmmakers in our lifetimes.
Wondering exactly how many times the mysterious word “Boojum” appears in The Hunting of the Snark? (3). There’s a pretty user-friendly and accessible concordance of seven of Lewis Carroll’s most important works – Both Alices + “Under Ground”, Snark, Slyvie & Bruno, The Game of Logic, and Phantasmagoria and Other Poems – at the Victorian Literary Studies Archive (in addition to searchable texts of dozens of other authors.) Thank you to the VLSA for making a useful website, and thanks to LCSNA member Lester Dickey for the tip.
Strange creepy creatures come out of your dens, and go to the world premier of The Hunting of the Snark at the Queens International Film Festival on Saturday, November 14th, 2009. The 30-minute student film is the directorial debut of Peter Pavlakis, a Brooklynite. The synopsis sounds like the plot sticks close to the Carroll poem, and the film trailer has an actor reading verbatim one of the rhymed speeches – so, we can expect a bit of fidelity, not a psycho-sexual re-imagining of the Bellman returning to sea a decade later to confront his nightmarish inner demons (ending in a car chase).
This will be at noon tomorrow at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts Charter Room, 35-12 35th Avenue, Queens, NY 11106.
Also coming out this week with the same title, the transatlantic “cosmopolitan post-bop” group NYNDK released “The Hunting of the Snark
” on the label Jazzheads
. The album includes hip versions of Charles Ives, Edward Grieg, and Carl Nielsen. The titular track (which can be heard online here
) begins with some snarky outgribations on trombone, but I couldn’t find any explanation for the use of the Carroll poem’s title beyond catchy inspiration.