Alice im Spiegelland (TV Movie 1998)

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Alice im Spiegelland: Directed by John Henderson. With Kate Beckinsale, Charlotte Curley, Penelope Wilton, Geoffrey Palmer. A modern adaptation of the classic children’s story “Alice Through the Looking Glass” written by Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel, which continued on from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. This time, Alice is played by the mother, who falls asleep while reading the the bedtime story to her daughter. Walking through the Looking Glass, Alice (Kate Beckinsale) finds herself in Chessland, a magical and fun world. There she meets the Red Queen (Siân Phillips) and White Queen (Dame Penelope Wilton), as well as many other amusing friends on her journey across the chessboard countryside onto become a crowned Queen.

“Both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are classics, rich in atmosphere and with colourful characters. Admittedly they are episodic but in a way that is part of the booksu0026#39; charm. Both are also difficult to adapt because of the structure, the atmosphere and Carrollu0026#39;s way of words, especially Through the Looking Glass where the structure is even more nonsensical and the characters even kookier. This adaptation is a valiant effort and it is on the most part the most faithful adaptation of Through the Looking Glass, whether it is the best is up for debate, I remember liking the 1973 BBC adaptation more but that may change on re-watch. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThis version is far from perfect, the ending is abrupt, Kate Beckinsaleu0026#39;s hair did look too modern and the Walrus and the Carpenter scene felt very badly rushed through, the production values in this scene did look on the amateurish side. While the Wasp with the Wig segment was interesting and well done the adaptation may have made more sense with the Lion and the Unicorn scene intact- it felt like it was meant to be there in the first place but edited out- and the White Knight scene really could have done without the black and white footage which added nothing to the scene. Some of the adaptation especially at the end felt rushed, if they had slowed things down those who had trouble following the story may have understood it a little more. The adaptation does look decent though, very TV-movie-bound, but it is colourful and attractive enough once you get used to Aliceu0026#39;s constant clothes changes and Tweedledum and Tweedledee made up to look like characters from A Clockwork Orange. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe photography is nicely done and flows decently into each frame and scene. The music is laden with whimsy, a sense of wonder and subtle edge, very like a fantasy adventure score should sound. The script is very true to Carrollu0026#39;s humour and how he wrote, the sing-song-like poetry and oddball nature are most endearing too. A-Sitting on the Gate stood out in this respect. The story maintains the episodic feel that the book has and also the wonderful weirdness(in a couple of scenes a little too weird admittedly) and whimsical charm. In terms of individual scenes, the melancholic White Knight scene and the really genuinely spooky train sequence stood out. The flower garden scene was colourful also, and the White Queen and Red Queen encounters are nicely done. The jabberwocky is much scarier in the Natalie Gregory adaptation(which I also preferred over this despite some of the songs and casting not quite being there), but it still makes the same impact here. The cast are fine. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eKate Beckinsale is too old- Kate Burton was also too old, around the same age, in the excellent theatre production from 1983 and she actually still worked- but there is still the winsomeness, assertiveness, sense of confusion and simple charm that youu0026#39;d expect Alice to have. Ian Richardson, Marc Warren and Steve Coogan also give nice contributions, but the standouts were Sian Phillipsu0026#39; menacingly imposing Red Queen, Penelope Wilton as a riotuous White Queen(though much more subtle than the hilariously batty Carol Channing in the Natalie Gregory adaptation) and especially the touching White Knight- the only sympathetic character on Aliceu0026#39;s adventures- of Ian Holm. In conclusion, a good if flawed version(though if people dislike it it is easy to see why), Through the Looking Glass is a very difficult book to adapt and this does valiantly with it. 7/10 Bethany Cox”

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