CAST: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter. Directed by Tim Burton.
BACK STORY: There's no mistaking the singular surrealism of Lewis Carroll, but despite the familiar faces on the movie posters it would be a mistake to call Burton's vision a pure adaptation of the author's 19th century writings or even a live-action remake of Walt Disney's 1951 animated film.
"It's a completely different and new story, but it has a lot of the same characters in it," said Wasikowska, the 20-year-old Aussie who portrays Burton's older Alice. "It has the same feel of the original stories, but it's really fun to explore a story that goes further and imagines what all these characters would be like several years down the tracks. Alice doesn't have a recollection of her first visit there. She's gone back and is discovering this world and finding herself again in this place that she doesn't even remember."
The script by Linda Woolverton gave director Burton a foothold in a topsy-turvy universe that he always found appealing in imagery but also lacking in its narrative glue.
"Every other version I've ever seen I've never really connected to because it's always just a series of weird events," Burton told The Times last year. "She's passively wandering through, [meeting] this weird character, that weird character. It's fine in the books, but the movies always felt like there wasn't anything underneath them. That's what we tried to do. Instead of the Hatter just being weird, get some kind of character underneath him."
FILM CLIP: Depp's turn as the orange-haired Mad Hatter marks his seventh film with Burton. "Watching them," Wasikowska says, "it's like they speak their very own language."
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