What Is It about Alice?

In class, Mr Long told us that his son, Beckett, loves to watch the show iCarly. Mr Long thought it was strange because his son is only three-and a half years old. The show iCarly is meant for middle school or high school age kids. It is funny that Beckett loves iCarly even though he does not really understand it. Beckett probably does not get the story of the show or the technology and dialog in it.

That made me wonder. What is it that attracts kids to the story of Alice?

Most popular childrens’ stories are fairy tales. A fairy Godmother who helps a young girl get to the ball. A prince who has to fight off a dragon to rescue the princess. It is all of these things that generally draw in children.

What does the movie Alice in Wonderland have?

It doesn’t have a prince. There isn’t a princess in need. No “and they lived happily ever after.”  So what is it? Is it that the children relate to Alice’s innocence? Generally people like things that they can relate to, like music. My other guess is that kids are attracted to the “silly” characters in the story. A talking, smiling cat. Tweedledum and Tweedledee. A talking Queen of Hearts card. The movie makes these characters seem so fun. When really, they aren’t.

In the book, the characters seem to be opposite of that. The Queen orders gardeners to be beheaded. That does not seem like a character in a children’s story to me.

But, when you make a movie, you can change anything to make it appeal to any audience. It seems pretty manipulative.

What do you think?


1 Response to “What Is It about Alice?”

  1. December 6, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    What an interesting conversation, Morgan! I wonder if what we believe is good for children, and perhaps what speaks to children, may have something to do with our time. Victorians, liked tales of clear morality, but Carroll shook that up a bit, right?

    If we go back before the time of Disney, when fairy tales were really fairy tales, the stories children read and heard were far less pretty. Bad things happened.

    For instance, Andersen’s Little Mermaid, had no singing fish and in the real ending, she did not marry her sweetie. Many of the original stories, perhaps like Alice, helped children work out feelings of confusion, abandonment, anger, fear. The very controversial psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who wrote The Uses of Enchantment, analyzed fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology, and talked about the emotional value of story and the importance of allowing children to explore and work through the darker sides of their lives.

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