All this goes to confirm to me once again what deeply odd books these two Lewis Carroll classics are. Tim Burton is meant to be one of the most imaginative and ‘off-the-wall’ film directors operating at the moment yet when faced with adapting these books to film, he had to impose a, let’s face it, rather standard to the point of clichéd storyline involving a quest, a wicked queen and a good queen (the White Queen in this case) and heroic helpers to aid in said quest (the Mad Hatter, the Dormouse and so on). He also gives everyone names apparently unhappy that all of Carroll’s characters are known only by their title with the only exceptions of Alice herself, Dinah (her cat), Humpty Dumpty and Tweedledum and Tweedledee. I don’t think anyone else is named in either book but feel free to correct me, preferably without too much smug superiority, thanks. My point however stands. Tim Burton seemed to have thought that these were books that needed to be tamed. Certainly they are deeply subversive, more so than is initially apparent. After all, Looking Glass must be one of the few children’s classics to have a joke about child murder in it.Honest, it’s in the ‘Humpty Dumpty’ chapter after he’s asked
‘Seven years and six months!’ Humpty Dumpty repeated thoughtfully. ‘An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you’d asked my advice I’d have said “Leave off at seven” – but it’s too late now.’
‘I never ask advice about growing,’
‘Too proud?’ the other inquired.
‘One can’t, perhaps,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.’
As I said. Odd.
The last word though, goes to Charles Lamb who made this helpful observation in a letter he wrote in 1808:
Why do cats grin in