Alice Through the Looking Glass
Rosemary Hill for BBC
directed by James MacTaggart
starring Sarah Sutton, Brenda Bruce, Freddie Jones, Geoffrey Bayldon, Judy Parfitt, Richard Pearson, June Watson, Vivenne Moore, Jeffrey Segal, Anthony Collin, Raymond Mason, Bruce Purchase, Stanley Lebor, Jonathan Cecil, Richard Speight, Ian Trigger, Stephen Moore, Robin Wentworth, Nicholas Jones, Douglas Milvain
screenplay by James MacTaggart, based on the novel Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland
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One day, Alice (Sarah Sutton) just wonders what the world might be on
the other side of the mirror, where everything's the wrong way around ...
and walks right through the mirror. Things are quite different over there:
There are flowers who talk calling Alice nothing but an odd floating
flower, there are chess pieces who act like humans but who tell Alice how
to get ahead in the world behind a mirror ... which is basically just like
a pawn in a chess game. There's the very rude and hair-splitting Red Queen
(Judy Parfitt), who won't let Alice finish a single sentence, and the
over-obliging White Queen (Brenda Bruce), out of whom Alice doesn't get
much of any use, the bizarre Tweedledum (Anthony Collin) and Tweedledee
(Raymond Mason), the constantly depressed Humpty Dumpty (Freddie Jones),
the quite insane White King (Richard Pearson) and his weird messengers
Hare and Hatter, the totally ineffective White Knight (Geoffrey Bayldon),
and many more bizarre characters. Alice also has to learn that the more
she tries to get to somewhere else, the more she remains in the same place
- but eventually, she gets to the far end of the chessboard, and like all
good pawns, she becomes a queen ... which of course doesn't mean the Red
Queen will stop pestering her, and she even holds a banquet in her honour
without inviting her. But when Alice shows up nevertheless, she soon has
to realize all of this is too mad for her ... and eventually, she returns
back to her real world - but what, praytell, is real?
Through the Looking Glass stays remarkably close to Lewis Carroll's
linguistic artistry, much more so than most other versions, and actually
manages to turn his many wordplays into something more than an endless
sequence of self-contained numbers (something that even many less literal
adaptations suffer from) - which is also made possible thanks to a first
rate cast that uniformly manages to bring the movie's characters to life
beyond merely stroking actors' egos.
And that said, Alice Through the
Looking Glass is anything but perfect: Mainly, it's direction is
stagey to the point of being boring, the concept of filming almost the
whole movie in front of blue screens with drawn backdrops copied in later
on suffers from a technically extremely poor execution that also shows a
lack in creativity both in the backdrops as such and in their application.
Basically, there doesn't seem to be a reasonable need at all for putting
the many blue screen effects in there other than to save on outside shoots
and such - and that really cheapens the film, mind you.
Still well worth
a look if you're at all into Alice in Wonderland - but the whole
thing could have so benefited from better execution ...