Alice in Wonderland is a Disney movie based on Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. The movie Alice in Wonderland is one of Disney’s unique productions with distinctive characters and also a plot line. The initial story started with a plot in which Alice was sitting by a river bank with her older sister as she reads a borrowed book. The book was boring, didn’t have any images, had no conversation, and wasn’t interesting for Alice. In the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland the movie starts with a history lesson, a scene that appeared in the Caucus Race.
Also, the Disney movie dismissed some chapters of the novel such as: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale, The Mock Turtle’s Story, and The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill. Instead the movie is filled up with lots of fantasy that is different from the original tale creating an integrated story.
Disney completes the movie by adding their touch of stereotypes and subliminal messages. There are number of scenes that call attention to gender roles, drug use, and class struggle. This essay will analyze these messages and explain their impact on children. Alice, the main character of the movie, is a young teen between the age of ten and twelve.
She is slightly younger than most female characters in Disney movies. Unlike the other Disney characters, Alice is not a princess who is “always ready for, longing for, hoping and dreaming for a man…etc. ” but she is a child who envisions her own world (Packaging Girlhood, p. 67). She wishes to break away from routine and run to a wonderland, an imaginary world she creates. She then goes on a journey to this invented world, with no idea where it will take her. With no fear, she tours around a world that is enormously different from reality and full of strange characters. She is daring, curious and ready to explore the life around her.
These are natural characteristics that most children have. Alice’s role is depicted in way to send positive message to girls in the same age; that a girl should use her imagination to fill her life with enthusiasm rather than being concerned with boys. On the counter to such positive message, the movie portrays a number of messages that enforce class struggle, gender roles, and drug use. Alice and Wonderland is not a typical Disney movie with a princess waiting for the perfect man. In the movies almost all the leadership roles are fulfilled by women (the While Queen and the Queen of Hearts) who rule the two major kingdoms.
While the headship is in the hand of these two women, we notice that the brain behind their operations rested in men’s hands. In the case of the Queen of Hearts, the Red Knight rules through the queen, as she is shown to be naive and comically stupid. On the other side, the White Queen is the figurehead who is trying to rise up in power. However, it is the Mad Hatter who is leading and organizing a force against the Queen of Hearts. The portrayal of the two queens is important, especially when considering their predicament of competition has an effect on Alice.
The Queen of Hearts is depicted as a brutal, violent, frightened, and masculine role. These traits are demonstrated as pre-conditional as the only way to rise in power. This particular idea is confirmed when the White Queen states that acting violent is against her vows and yet sends other to do her dirty work, for example when the Queen of Hearts sends the spades to get their heads cut off (Disney Movie Version) and also sending Alice to slay the Jabberwocky. The White Queen is illustrated as soft and feminine but lacks direct action. She needed someone like Alice, to save her kingdom.
Empowering girls through embracing courage in children’s movie may encourage positive inspiration. The same idea is again reinforced in the end of the movie, when Alice becomes part of her father’s company, showing that she inherits this adventurous nature from him. While one can see this as a positive message, it traditionally abandon female gender role to embrace a masculine form. Other than the gender roles in the story of Alice and Wonderland, the movie also illustrates various scenes that are related to the use of drugs. Alice’s adventure seems like a trip of investigation to examine the various types of drugs.
The entire story is full of visual imagination and experience that can be closely related to that of hallucination. The movie contains many scenes in which rooms shrink, cats disappear, and tears become an ocean. All these are examples of drug usage and their effects on people; also we witness the slowing sensation of time and movement in the scene where Alice falls into the rabbit hole. She takes longer to admire the hole as she falls longer than the real time a person experiences falling down and has some time to explore what is inside the hole.
Another example of drug usage is the caterpillar Dodo. It is an insect which smokes a water pipe; commonly used to inhale marijuana. In this scene, Alice (and all children) are introduced to the way drugs are used. The same insect also asks Alice to eat a mushroom she will become bigger in size and her mind will expand. This might be a dangerous message for children, that if someone hand you something you should take it. A similar incident when Alice partake a substance that says “consume me” without thinking about its consequences.
In one of the scene, where Alice was walking through the forest, she met the twin Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. In the book the twins are never mentioned, which never appear. But in the movie the twins decided to tell her a story about walrus and carpenter. The way the carpenter and walrus were demonstrated emphasize on class differences; the carpenter was holding a hammer and wearing apron indicating that he is from a lower class, while the walrus was holding a case, wearing a tie and hat and smoking a cigar signifying a higher class.
“We’ll sweep this clear in half a year, if you don’t mind the work,” says the carpenter after realizing that the beach they are on is dirty. To this, the walrus replies in singing: “Work?! The time has come to talk of other things; of shoes, and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings! ” This dialogue implies that the parties involved are of different classes. In the same narrative, the carpenter is thrown half-way into the beach by the walrus that used the carpenter’s hammer to lift him off the ground. The carpenter then sees oysters (which in the book are lobsters).
The walrus then lures the little oysters into a little shed built by the carpenter on the beach so he can eat them. The walrus makes the carpenter believe they will share the oysters, but once the carpenter goes into the kitchen, the walrus eats them all. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum narrate this event and show that curiosity may leads to one trouble. This is quite possibly at a theme that kids would understand. However, the story also shows the inequality in a capitalist society between the upper class and the lower class, which is too complicated for a child to identify.
Children learn that in the real world there are those like the walrus who have control over other people and treat them with an unfair manner. A similar occurrence happens shortly after, where the rabbit is pursued by Alice into his house. In the house, Alice eats a little cake and enlarges in size again. Frightened, the rabbit calls the newly enlarged Alice a monster. He sees Dodo and asks for his help. Like the walrus, Dodo simply smokes his pipe and speaks declaratively, as if showing off. In the novel the white rabbit declares they should burn his house down with Alice inside, Dodo never appears.
In the movie Dodo directs a lizard (Bill) to get Alice out of the house. Apprehended Bill flees Away to avoid the trouble, but Dodo finds a way to bring him back and support him whilst going up the ladder and says, “You’re passing up a golden opportunity…. you can be famous! ” (Walt Disney, 1951). He propels Bill down the chimney, even though Bill was constantly trying to seize him and forge back. After this failed planning attempt, Dodo, with the rabbit’s aid, though not willingly accepting to take part and hands him a match to ignite the fire, and decides to burn down the house.
Like the walrus story, this scene clearly depicts the conflict between the upper and lower classes. Whilst watching this specific scene, children are not aware of the underlying reason behind it and would question the situation. Although this scene seems to be frank and child-friendly, it definitely signifies the cornerstones of class conflicts and discrimination a topic definitely to be redefined for children. It is critically important to highlight the fact that these children must not, under any circumstances feel inferior or class bound in their society.
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