Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Disney Combined with Wonderland

Walt Disney created many timeless classics all based from original stories. Disney himself loved Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland because of the imagination within the story and wanted to bring that to life. In the Disney Archives, they stated “this animated feature had been on Walt's mind since 1933” (2009). It was not until the 1940s the real work of the movie began. In 1945, Walt Disney announced fourteen year old Kathryn Beaumont as Alice. Beaumont became the model for the character’s appearance.



How Did Disney Find Wonderland?

How did Walt Disney find the inspiration to bring the popular characters to life? I thought he was always a creative superhero, but every superhero needs a sidekick. Disney used many of the original illustrations from Carroll’s story to base his animated characters on. Walt Disney knew he would not be able to capture the entire story Lewis Carroll created and eliminations had to be made, which I felt could have helped the movie more. Some characters were combined with others, such as the character Duchess. The characteristics of the Duchess were merged with those of the Queen of Hearts, creating two characters in one (Disney Archives, 2009).


Disney Doesn't Do It Again

During the time the animated film was released, people did not take to it as Walt Disney hoped they would have. When I watched it for the first time, I remember being in a trance throughout the movie. I had to have another copy because I wore my first movie out. Though, compared to the other films Disney created, he failed to capture the humor and story Carroll had written. Many thought “what was charming and appropriately bizarre in book form seemed oddly out of place on the motion picture screen” (Disney Archives, 2009). Walt Disney’s reaction was not that the film was odd, but “Alice had no "heart." What, did he give it all away to the Queen of Hearts or Disney actually could not deliver? Though the film was not as popular as some have hoped it to be, two songs within it grew to be loved by audiences. “I’m late” and “The Unbirthday Song” helped the film’s nomination for an Academy Award, for the Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.


video

A Very Unbirthday Clip

A Very Unbirthday!

Personally this was one of my favorite Disney movies when I was growing up. I loved the songs and colors throughout the film. My favorite clip was with The Unbirthday Party as well as the song. I think it was, and still is, one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I loved the Mad Hatter and the March Hare running towards the table, stumbling over one another to reach Alice. Especially the part where teacups, saucers and tea came pouring out of their hats. My favorite part is when the Mad Hatter tells Alice to blow the candles out while they sang at the top of their lungs. I find this scene to be full of humor because the characters are celebrating something unordinary. It really makes the audience think about the song, the characters, and the story, leading the audience to become trapped in a bizarre world.


Sources

Disney. (2009). Alice in Wonderland. Disney Archives. Retrieved on October 13, 2009 from

http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/movies/alice/alice.html.

Neclea. (2007). Alice in Wonderland (Disney) - Unbirthday Party (Complete). Video retrieved

on October 13, 2009 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InSn2BLDwfQ.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Truth about Alyss


“Fantasy just declared war on reality” is the first sentence of the book The Looking Glass Wars written by Frank Beddor. How can I not open the book to find out what it means? Some ask why this title is so familiar, and the reason it being inspired by a classic children’s story. The “looking glass” from Frank Beddor can be found in the popular story of Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll. Do not jump to conclusions by assuming Beddor’s book is a continuation of the adventures in wonderland because I did and was blown away. The Looking Glass Wars is the complete opposite of everything Carroll originally wrote about.


Alyss, not Alice

The Looking Glass Wars is the first book in the trilogy about Alyss’ adventures in Wonderland. In this story everything written by Lewis Carroll is lies and Beddor’s story is the true story of Alyss. The character of Alice, created by Carroll, is the fictitious story, while the character and Wonderland are indeed real. If a person sees the smoking caterpillar, the rabbit with the annoying ticking clock, and even the blonde bitch, it is not drugs but every character Carroll wrote about is true in some form. Alyss’ story comes to life because reverend Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, writes Alyss’ memories down in a manuscript. Get it? Dodgson used to be Carroll’s original name, funny how Beddor spins the story. Carroll’s story uses characters, images, and adventures and determined it all to be part of Alyss’ imagination.


The Story of Princess Alyss Heart

Lewis Carroll’s version of Alice in Wonderland is the adventure of an ordinary blonde girl, or as my parents say the blonde bitch, which fell down a rabbit hole into a mysterious world full of unusual things and imagination. I read about the smiling cat, a tea party, and the Duchess but never anything like this spin on Wonderland. Beddor uses Wonderland not as the make-believe land, but as a kingdom ruled under hierarchy. In this world full of order and war, Alyss is actually Princess Alyss Heart. I should tell my aunt that one; she would have to address her as Princess Blonde Bitch. She did not fall into Wonderland, but instead had to escape because of her evil Aunt Redd’s invasion. Alyss is now trapped in London trying to fit in, which I feel is hard for any teenage girl to do. As Alyss gets older, she eventually perceives Wonderland as part of her imagination and begins to lead a normal life. With the help of her childhood friend, she is returned to Wonderland and defeats her aunt to become Queen of Wonderland.


Hatter M

Beddor’s version of Alice (Alyss) provides a twist on a classic. Action, romance, and trying figuring out who you really are, The Looking Glass Wars provides suspense and enjoyment. My favorite character throughout the story, in either version, is Hatter M, or the Mad Hatter. I feel for him because in Lewis Carroll’s version, the Hatter is sentenced to death by the queen for murdering time and in order to escape, the tea party is forever frozen at 6:00 pm. Beddor, in his version, did not portray the Hatter as the troubled character. Instead, he was the queen’s body guard with the responsibility to watch over Alyss until she could rule. He is the one who was to protect Alyss when they escape Wonderland, however they were separated. Hatter M then spends the next thirteen years trying to track her down, and bring her back to her homeland. I would not mind Hatter M searching for me because I would love to meet him.


Which One To Chose?

There is something more appealing about Hatter M, than Carroll’s version. The reader is able to see his weaknesses, his troubles, and his strengths not only as a character in a story but as a person. I personally enjoy Beddor’s version because there are more emotions, relationships, and dynamics to the plot. As a beloved reader of the classic version, The Looking Glass Wars brings something new. Both versions send the reader to strong worlds full of fantasy where they get trapped in an adventure.



Sources

Beddor, Frank. (2006). The Looking Glass Wars. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.

Carroll, Lewis. (1946). Alice in Wonderland. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Caterpillar is Smoking Something!

“Going down the rabbit hole” does not necessarily mean what it says. Rabbits due go down rabbit holes, but in Alice and Wonderland, there is more to the story. Alice in Wonderland contains many different interpretations to the references made about the characters. Many people believe these references made throughout the story of Alice in Wonderland are all related to drugs. It's crazy but so true. When Alice drinks the potion to get small, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and even the Caterpillar is the reference to drugs such as marijuana or LCD. What if these references are not about drugs but the reference to a medical condition known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Has anyone ever thought of illnesses actually deriving from a fairytale! One example is the clip below explaining how one person interprets and deals with their condition.

video


Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Clip


What's in a Name?

The clip from ABC News shows us a nineteen year old girl believes her world is either the size of a dollhouse or as big as a giant. People in the medical profession know the name of the illness came from the popular children’s story written by Lewis Carroll. The question is, why this name? Yes, Alice drinks a potion to shrink to enter Wonderland. Did Carroll suffer from this illness as well? I personally feel if an author can write something so in depth to bring their story to life, then they are connected to it somehow. “Speculations Carroll may have suffered from migraines and may have been in such a state while writing Alice” (Lu, 2009) has been suggested. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS) is not caused by a malfunctioning of the eyes, but by an altered perception of images in the brain” (2009). The images people see have a distortion of either themselves, or their visual perception. In other words “the patients are unable to judge the size of everyday objects like cars and trees and are also unable to judge distances” (Lu, 2009).


The Symptoms & Treatments

Patients begin to notice severe headaches or migraines. Now because you may have a migraine now and then does not mean you have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome becasue everyone would have it. Often migraines of such severity run in families. “In fact, a person who experiences the symptoms of AIWS can sometimes interpret them as an indication of an oncoming severe migraine” (Lu, 2009). Patients do not realize there is a connection between the migraines and images until the images have already begun. There are some drugs to help eliminate migraines and not the ones in the story. “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, or drugs that activate serotonin receptors in the brain” can help treat migraines (Lu, 2009). Much progress has been made since the time of the first few publicized reports. As more research is done, hopefully we will know even more about AIWS.


A Negative or a Positive?

People believed the story Alice in Wonderland is all about drugs and hallucinations whereas they do not see the story as a positive for people who suffer with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Does it give it a negative spin having a disease named after the popular children’s story? The speculation of drugs referenced throughout the story would have already negatively impacted it. While having a disease named after a beloved classic, may give people something to relate to, the story’s reception may be improved. If a person who suffers from Alice in Wonderland Syndrome would read the story of Alice in Wonderland, would they be able to accept and understand their disease better? I believe by relating to something they could understand, would better help them. Their world, “through their looking glass,” may be forever altered.


Sources
Hamad1988. (2008). Alice in Wonderland Syndrome [video file]. Retrieved on October 7,
2009 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIUsdRwebPQ.
Lu, Yuanting. (2009). Health Talk: Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. The Tartan. Retrieved on
October 7, 2009 from http://www.thetartan.org/2009/1/19/scitech/healthtalk.




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fairytales versus Modern Stories...What to Read?

There are many decisions a person needs to make when it comes to reading, especially to children. Some things a person wonders when it comes to reading is if it is the appropriate book, will the child understand the story, are there too much or too little illustrations, or what is the best time to read. Even as teachers we must think about what is appropriate to read to our class. Reading to a child can eventually seem like a daily task or a job you are not getting paid enough for. When we start approaching reading as a job, the child does not get the initial outcome intended. Nicola Morgan states “reading must be fun, not work” (2000). There are many advantages to reading to a child at any age. Some of the advantages Morgan researched on are:

  • “it gives experience of different types of language, rhythms and sounds
  • research shows that pre-school children who are exposed to plenty of language (books and conversation) tend to do better at school
  • it teaches about many topics which wouldn't come up in conversation
  • it is a wonderful way to bond with your child
  • it is very calming” (2000).

Dust Collectors or Beloved Classics
What adults want to read to children and what they should read to children collide in society today. For example, adults want to read the stories they heard when they were younger but instead they read the appropriate books to encourage reading. Today many adults want a child to read at an early age. But book selections has changed to meet the needs of the child.
So classic fairytales become dust collectors on the shelves. Those stories are “no longer appropriate to soothe youngsters before bed” (Paton, 2009). In an article about politically correct stories, Graeme Patron did numerous studies with parents and what they chose to read to their children.

The Facts
One survey stated “almost 20 percent of adults say they refused to read Hansel and Gretel because the children were abandoned in a forest - and it may give their own sons and daughters nightmares” (Paton, 2009). Parents today fear reading stories they heard when they were little due to the perception that the world is a lot scarier than it used to be. One example is the simple story of Little Red Riding Hood can give a child nightmares and illusions of a wolf coming to eat them. But who does not think a wolf in grandma's clothes is nothing but funny! Another survey stated “65 per cent of parents preferred to read their children happier tales at bedtime, such as the Mr. Men, The Gruffalo and Winnie the Pooh” (Paton, 2009). They want their child to feel safe and secure, especially when it comes to literature. When you are reading to children, you are “showing your child how reading works” (Morgan, 2000).

What Means More
Why read to children? You run the risk that whatever you read may be politically incorrect. The stories I grew up listening to were ones with the most memorable moments, such as Alice in Wonderland and The Gingerbread Man. Now those stories I grew up on are on a list of what should not be read to children according to Paton. Those stories are the ones with the best morals and values compared to modern stories today. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Winnie the Pooh describes to children what the characters like to eat and what they do from day to day. There are no morals or messages but colorful pictures and happy phrases. Children enjoy those stories because of the colorful pictures because it stimulates their mind.

Read for the Love of Reading
Take for example every person who listened to classic fairytales. I could imagine the very same people watched different movie adaption’s to those stories as well. Look at the story and the Disney film of Alice in Wonderland. Both of these adaptations contained similar facts and meanings. Did prohibiting that movie have a traumatizing affect ? No so why prohibit the story as well? In my opinion those people who watched film adaptations or read a story turned out fine. I sure did because I listen to the classics with the understanding of make-believe. I was never once traumatized or had vivid nightmares of a wolf or a witch coming to get me. The only negative impact the classic fairytales could have is the child would want more of the story. Regardless of a parent's reading selection for a child, the experience, modeling, and language building are important factors. The focus should be on exhibiting the love of reading and any book can do that.

Sources

Morgan, Nicola. (2000). Reading to Babies, Toddlers and Young Children: The Why? The

What? And the How?. The Child Literacy Center. Retrieved on October 3, 2009 from http://www.childliteracy.com/babies.html.

Paton, Graeme. (2009). Traditional Fairytales not PC Enough. The Telegraph. Retrieved on

October 3, 2009 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/4125664/Traditional-fairytales-not-PC-enough-for-parents.html

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Man with an Imaginative Vision

“Behind every great man is a great woman” is the case for Lewis Carroll, though his is a fictitious woman. Lewis Carroll wrote one of the most known fairytales called Alice in Wonderland. Alice from Alice in Wonderland made Carroll’s name known worldwide. Many people around the world know about the blonde girl 's story, or the blond bitch according to my parents, but little is known of Lewis Carroll. Based on the sources provided by the Academy of American Poets, Carroll “was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson on January 27, 1832, in Daresbury, Cheshire, England. He was the son of a clergyman. Carroll was the third child born to a family of eleven children” (2009). Being a large family, Carroll was constantly reminded of morals and values.


The Early Years

Carroll admired his father at an early age and wanted to be like him (Merriman, 2007). He attended a public school after fourteen years of home schooling like his father did. Even in those times education was stressed as it is in my life today. Carroll “was determined to succeed and approached his education avidly: he earned his B.A. in 1854 with First Class Honors in mathematics, Second in Classics, and in 1857 graduated with an M.A” (Merriman, 2007). After graduation, Carroll went into teaching mathematics. He was later ordained as a deacon (Academy of American Poets, 2009). Though ordained, Carroll never preached. “He liked to take holidays and practice his photography in various parts of the country with family and friends, such as fellow Oxford Alumnus Doctor Reginald Southey” (Merriman, 2007). He was a family man at heart.


Carroll's World of Writing

Carroll lived in a world full of games, which he derived his writing from. He was a little kid in his mind like any adult is buried deep in their mind. “His interest in logic came purely from the playful nature of its principle rather than its uses as a tool” (Merriman, 2007). Carroll wrote a variety of material, but primarily focused on fantasies and humor, where the story of Alice came from . Each piece of Carroll’s writing had a specific purpose. “Alice's story began as a piece of extemporaneous whimsy meant to entertain three little girls on a boating trip in 1862” (Merriman, 2007).


The Story Continues with Time

The oddest thing to Carroll’s acquiring fame was he did not know it was coming. Imagine writing a story you think no one would read, except three little girls it was written for. In my opinion I would think he was more shocked than anything. What really fascinates me was the background of the author because it was something I least expected. Who would have thought a man from a family of eleven would have had the passion for education like he did, especially in that time period, let alone be a household name even today. The fact of the matter is this story is over one hundred years old, and still has popularity with children.


The basic concept of Alice contains its original vision as Lewis Carroll imagined. This is the thing I most admire about this story. Between the wit and humor of the story there was a deeper meaning. Carroll once said, “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it” (Merriman 2007). I believe discovering something in a story is the greatest gift imaginable, especially because you were least expecting the twist or the hidden meaning in Alice in Wonderland. It certainly contained surprises.


Sources

Academy of American Poets. (2009). Lewis Carroll. Retrieved on October 2, 2009 from

http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/78.

Merriman, C.D., (2007). Lewis Carroll. The Literature Network. Retrieved on October 2, 2009

from http://www.online-literature.com/carroll.