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Creating a fantasy world for 'Phoebe in Wonderland'

March 12, 2009|Michael Ordona

At the start of "Phoebe in Wonderland," the mother of a young girl (played by Elle Fanning) gives her a handmade diorama depicting "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." But when the girl joins a school production of that same story, she begins to blur fantasy and reality.

"If you look carefully at that diorama, you see every portion of Wonderland that's later realized" in the film, said writer-director Daniel Barnz. That was largely thanks to production designer Therese DePrez. "I tried to mimic the wardrobe of the Red Queen [later used in the play]; these are subtle allusions to things Phoebe will see in her future," DePrez said, who created the diorama mostly from items bought at a 99-cent store. "The rabbit hole was a Slinky that you could look down into and see a cloud pattern, which mimics a shot later in the film," she said.

"Every morning you'd come in and there would be these new little details," Barnz said. "The first time Elle saw it she just ran over to it. And every day she would come in to see what had changed."

-- Michael Ordona

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