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From Books to Burton

Two books are making their way from page to screen via Tim Burton productions in the coming months. On May 27 Alice Through the Looking Glass brings viewers a sequel to the 2010 Alice in Wonderland and what appears to be a very loose, really barely related, version of Lewis Carroll’s classic Through the Looking-Glass.  Burton is not directing Looking Glass but, from the previews (which can be seen here), it appears that the film continues his dark and fantastical style.

I’m a huge fan of Lewis Carroll and have seen most every film adaptation of the Alice stories I can find. However, I really didn’t care for Burton’s version of the story. All of the parts were there to make the movie seem like Wonderland, and yet it didn’t. I can appreciate riffing off of the original story to create something new, which definitely happened as far as the storytelling, but the whole production felt a bit too much like Johnny Depp fan-service.

That said, I plan to see Looking Glass, even though I suspect the characters and the looking glass world won’t be anything at all like the Carrollian version I have in my mind of them. Perhaps a different director will make a difference for me, but it’s hard to say.

Out September 30 is the film adaptation of the Young Adult novel Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I have only read the graphic novel version of the book, so I reached out to my co-reviewer Maggie for her input.

From Maggie:

Back in 2011 I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and fell absolutely in love with it. I gave it a DIK review at AAR and purchased it as a gift for unsuspecting friends and family. It’s the story of young Jake and his grandfather, a man seemingly scarred by having been in Europe during WWII. When Jake learns there is more to his grandfather’s past trauma than just the war, he goes exploring and is lead to Ms. Peregrine’s school. A place of safety for those who wouldn’t be accepted into the outside world, Jake finds friends here whom he quickly grows to love. But this idyllic place is not only what it appears to be on the surface and Jake’s presence triggers something that just might bring a cataclysmic change to all the children in the Home. A tale of fathers and sons, friends and lovers, this fantasy novel explores the human experience in a sweet and enticing way,

This year in September they will be releasing a movie based on the book. You can see the trailer here. Of course, it’s hard to tell from just the few moments we’ve seen so far but it is clear that some changes have been made in terms of the powers the children have and Jake’s introduction to their world. Those wanting a film that is a duplicate of the book will have to keep waiting. That said, this looks as though it will be a visually stunning film with music that perfectly captures the spooky ambiance of the novel. While we can’t know if the children have stayed true to their characters it appears that Miss Peregrine certainly has. I’ve learned to accept that films and the books they are based on are often two different entities so I plan to watch it with an open mind and hope Mr. Burton can wow me with his interpretation of this fantastic tale.

I agree that some changes seem to have been made from the original story; however I am very excited to see how those changes play out on the big screen. I actually think Rigg’s story, with its eerie magic, is more suited to a Tim Burton production than the Lewis Carroll books. Carroll’s work is whimsical, yes, but they’re also very British and Victorian, with much of the whimsy coming from a child’s attempt to understand society and language. Rigg’s novel is more edgy and bizarre, which fits Burton perfectly.

Are any of you looking forward to these movies? Have you read the books? Or do you plan to before the film releases? What do you think of Burton’s style and how it fits with these stories? Let me know in the comments.

Haley Kral


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