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In addition to all the varied and interesting Alice in Wonderland movies, Alice has shown up in many television shows over the years.

One of the most famous is the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Star Trek, where the crew lands on a planet and starts seeing things that come from their own minds, and I guess one of them has Alice on the brain:

Would love to hear about more of these, as I’m sure there are many.

Being somewhat of a tattoo aficionado (fifteen and counting), I thought this might make for an interesting topic for today’s Alice post. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of Alice in Wonderland tattoos out there, but here are a couple good ones, mostly elaborate backpieces, gathered from around the ‘net. (I also recommend the blog Contrariwise, devoted to literary tattoos, which is doing an Alice theme this week as well.)

Of course, I’m planning on getting my own Alice tattoo eventually (just a matter of money, as with all tattoos, and of priority, as I have several that will probably come before it). I haven’t quite decided on the design yet, though. I love the Tenniel illustrations, but they are very common. I thought it might be more special to get one of the illustrations that Lewis Carroll drew himself (which I mentioned in my post about Alice art), which would not only connect me to the author, but provide an interesting conversational piece – plus I find them to be creepy as hell, which is a big selling point in my book. Unfortunately, many of my favorite scenes aren’t in the Carroll-illustrated original edition (the tea party, the cheshire cat), but looking through the book I found one that stuck out for me, just for its otherworldly creatures and the alienated look on Alice’s face – not characters that normally speak to me, but I really like the image:

Carroll's Alice

If you ever wanted to make a pilgrimage to see some Alice-related sights in England (or is that just me?), or find Alice themes in your U.S. travels, here are some suggestions.

The Alice in Wonderland sculpture
in Central Park, New York City

The White Rabbit
, an Alice-themed store in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

The Alice in Wonderland ride
at Disneyland in Anaheim, California

Alice in Wonderland Centre in Wales

Alice ride at Pleasure Beach Theme Park, Blackpool, UK

Adventure Wonderland in Bournemouth, UK

Alice’s Shop (the old sheep shop from Through the Looking Glass), Oxford, England (Check out Alice in Oxford for more local sightseeing suggestions in Lewis Carroll’s old stomping grounds.)

Larnach Castle, New Zealand, has several Alice elements in their gardens

Annual Alice Festival held every July in Vancouver, Canada. (After watching this video, I really hope to be able to attend this one year.)

And finally, one from my own area, the Alice in Wonderland exhibit at Enchanted Forest, which is a strange old theme park in Salem, Oregon that is a must-see for anyone interested in creepy animatronics, truly unnerving haunted houses, and storybook sculptures with a hint of menace scattered throughout a beautiful wooded setting. There are a few Alice sculptures there, and an awesome underground rabbit hole that you can crawl through – made and sized for children, of course, but honestly I think these things are even more fun as an adult. Here are a few of my own photos:

Enchanted Forest

If you know of any other Alice in Wonderland attractions anywhere in the world, please let me know about them!

Many artists have illustrated editions of Alice in Wonderland, or used the books as inspiration for their own work. It would be almost impossible to give a complete list of these, but this site from Lauren Harman has extensive examples. I also recommend The Art of Alice in Wonderland by Stephanie Lovett Stoffel, a beautiful hardcover book showing a wide range of Alice illustrators.

Some of my favorites include:

Arthur Rackham, 1907

Rackham Alice

Greg Hildebrandt, 1991 (my Blogger icon is also from his series)

Hildebrandt Alice

Did you know that Salvador Dali did some Alice paintings?

Dali Alice

And honestly, I quite like the original Tenniel illustrations.

But even before Tenniel, the very first illustrator was Lewis Carroll himself, who drew the pictures in the first edition, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. While not technically very skilled, I feel that these illustrations do convey some of the surreal qualities of the story quite well.

Carroll Alice

Alice has inspired some great photography as well. Here’s an interesting Annie Leibovitz photo shoot for Vogue featuring Alice characters.

There are so many others, I wish I could show them all, but I encourage anyone interested to do some extensive image searches on Google to see some of the variety available from both professional and amateur artists. Every time I do this, I find something new and wonderful – and often more original and unusual than anything published in mainstream outlets. For instance, just now, looking for some images of the White Rabbit, I found this offering from petit_elfe on Photobucket. I will leave you with this as a reminder of how dark and strange the world of Alice can be (I wouldn’t want it any other way)…

As I eagerly await Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland, I’d like to profile some of the other film versions of the Alice stories that I’ve seen. There are so many, I’m not sure if I’ll ever find all of them, but I’ve probably seen the vast majority. I’ll list my favorites first (starred), and go from there. [And I’ve included a few clips scattered throughout, thanks to YouTube.]

*Alice – 1987, written and directed by Jan Svankmajer, featuring a live-action Alice and many puppets. Incredibly surreal, it captures the darkest side of Carroll’s tale. Also has the best White Rabbit I’ve ever seen, a taxidermy display come to life. When Alice shrinks, she turns from a real girl into a small doll. Many of the creatures are constructed from animal skeletons. Very disturbing, just how I like it! Very little dialogue, mostly action. [Here’s a clip of the scene where Alice descends, not down the rabbit hole, but via an old creaky elevator.]

*Through the Looking Glass – 1999, live action, starring Kate Beckinsale as Alice, directed by John Henderson. My favorite strictly Looking Glass adaptation. Has the best Tweedledee/Tweedledum, strangely reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. Also a stand-out performance by Ian Holm as the White Knight.

*Alice in Wonderland – 1950, starring Carol Marsh as the live-action Alice, with “puppetoons” by Lou Bunin. Begins with live action depiction of Alice’s life, with stop-motion puppetry once she’s in Wonderland. Good for a musical version (I’m not overly fond of musicals) and has a fantastic Cheshire Cat.

*Dreamchild – 1985, live action, with Wonderland creatures by Jim Henson’s studio. A wonderful although not-entirely-true story of the real Alice Liddell, in her 80’s, traveling to America for the centenary celebration of Lewis Carroll. While there, she has flashbacks of her life with Carroll (portrayed perfectly by Ian Holm, who shows up again in an Alice movie) and scenes from the Alice books. One of the best tea party scenes [starts at about 3:20 in this clip] with truly creepy Mad Hatter and leering March Hare.

*Alice in Wonderland – 1966, live action, directed by Jonathan Miller, starring such classic actors as Peter Sellers and Peter Cook, with soundtrack by Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar. Black and white. Very slow, dreamy quality, hardly any dialogue, but captures the mood very well. All the Wonderland characters are played as “regular” people (i.e., no elaborate costumes), which serves to make it both more realistic and more surreal than other productions. Alice walks among them and yet never seems to quite directly interact with them, just a step removed.

Alice in Wonderland – 1985, live action, produced by Irwin Allen, covering both stories in about three hours. Packed with stars such as Sammy Davis Jr. (as the caterpillar) and Ringo Starr (the mock turtle). The songs are, for me, a bit tedious, but overall it’s pretty fun.

Alice in Wonderland – 1999, live action, distributed by Hallmark, starring Martin Short as the Mad Hatter and Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat. Better than I had expected, but not great in my opinion.

Alice in Wonderland
– 1951, the Disney cartoon classic. Combines both books into one storyline. I find this one more enjoyable to watch with the sound off and music playing over it. Like “Dark Side of the Rainbow”, folks have synched up another of Pink Floyd’s albums, The Wall, with this movie.

Miyuki-chan in Wonderland – 1995, anime version of the stories, with strange sexual overtones. Takes a lot of liberties with the storyline, and seems to mostly exist to put buxom cartoon girls in sexy Alice-themed outfits.

Alice Through The Looking Glass – 1966, live action, made-for-TV musical starring (among others) Ricardo Montalban and Jimmy Durante. Pretty awful, I had a hard time watching it till the end, especially the musical numbers, though the Jabberwocky scene with Jack Palance was pretty awesome.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
– 1972, all-star live action musical with Michael Crawford, Fiona Fullerton, Peter Sellers (showing up here again), etc. I found this insanely dull. It follows the book almost perfectly, but without any inspiration. The songs, as is often the case, are agonizing.

Alice in Wonderland
– 1983, stage production, starring Nathan Lane, Richard Burton, Kate Burton and Colleen Dewhurst. Interesting use of the original Tenniel illustrations as the backdrops, otherwise fairly boring, with an uninspired performance from Alice. However, the Cheshire Cat scene with Geoffrey Holder (who played Punjab in Annie) is worth watching.

Alice in Wonderland – 1933 live action with puppet-type costuming, starring W.C. Fields, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper. Pretty decent adaptation (one of the first), and it’s fun to see some of the famous actors from early films.

Alice at the Palace – 1982 stage production, starring Meryl Streep as Alice. I haven’t seen this yet, in fact I just bought the DVD to watch at the next Alice Days celebration, but I have seen some clips on YouTube.

Unsuk Chin: Alice in Wonderland – 2007, opera by a Korean composer, this is really hard to describe, so I’ll just direct you to this clip.

Alice in Wonderland – 1976, awful porno version starring Kristine DeBell. Alice is an uptight virgin librarian who finds the door to a Wonderland filled with lascivious characters. Bad. So bad. It’s been pointed out to me that there are probably myriad pornos with Alice themes, but this is the only widely-available one I know of.

Alice in Acidland – 1968, directed by John Donne. Not very Alice-like, really, but I had to rent it for the title. Horrible film warning of the dangers of pot and acid, similar to Reefer Madness.

Phoebe in Wonderland
– 2007, live action, not technically an Alice retelling, but rather a beautiful plot of its own with strong ties to Alice and some enacting of the Alice story. Stars Ellen Fanning, Dakota Fanning’s little sister, and she is amazing as a little girl with Tourette’s who falls in love with Alice in Wonderland as her school puts on the play.

Alice’s Misadventures in Wonderland
– 2004. I am dying to see this after watching the preview, but sadly it doesn’t appear to be available.

Silent versions – there are at least two early silent films of Alice, a 1903 version by Cecil Hepworth that is available as an extra on the DVD of the 1966 Jonathan Miller production, and a 1915 version starring Viola Savoy that is available as a package with a silent Oz rendition (here’s a clip, featuring an eerie white rabbit).

There are also a few fairly mediocre animated versions floating around, but many aren’t available anymore or just aren’t worth mentioning.

I’m sure there are more, and if you’ve seen a good one that isn’t mentioned here, please let me know!

As my second post to this blog can attest, Alice in Wonderland has been a huge influence on the Girls Underground concept. For that and many other personal reasons, I am a huge Alice fan – I collect related knick-knacks and books and movies, and even celebrate an Alice-themed holiday each May. So it should come as no surprise that I am eagerly anticipating the newest Alice movie by Tim Burton (who I also love dearly), and am even planning to go to the midnight showing next Thursday night when it opens (which will make for a very tired Kate the next day at work, but it’ll be worth it). In celebration of this impending addition to the vast catalogue of Alice movies, I will be making a series of Alice-themed posts here over the next 7 days (7, of course, is the age Alice was in the book). There is so much good, and weird, Alice stuff out there, it will be hard to choose what to feature…

Today, to build on my previous post about songs related to Girls Underground, let’s start with music.

Most everyone knows about “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, which incites you to “feed your head” (even though the dormouse never said that) and includes a ton of Alice references. (The link goes to a neat video someone made for the song on YouTube. And how about another one, remixed as a techno version. Or another.) A classic of the 60’s acid-trip culture. [On a related tangent, my mother always tells me stories of the time period when she lived in New York City in the late 60’s and there was some performance art troupe that did an Alice show with a lot of trippy features, and she followed them around the city to various shows. She even has some book about it, which I should try to scan in and post someday.]

While many people are familiar with the Disney movie (in fact, an alarming amount of Americans seem to think of Alice in Wonderland solely in terms of this movie, and don’t even know it was originally a book!), few know of the wonderful song written for the Cheshire Cat, “I’m Odd,” which ended up getting cut.

There are also several songs that are only peripherally, if at all, related to Alice, but which have music videos with an Alice theme. These include “Sunshine” by Aerosmith, “What You Waiting For” by Gwen Stefani, “You Know Me” by Robbie Williams, and of course “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty. Possibly my favorite these days is “Labyrinth” by the German band Oomph, which really captures the creepy, dark side of Alice. “Alice in Wonder Underground” by Buck Tick may or may not fit here, unfortunately I don’t speak Japanese so I’m not sure.

Now on to some of my personal favorites, songs with strong Alice imagery in the lyrics.

“Alice” by Sisters of Mercy – “Alice pressed against the wall / So she can see the door / In case the laughing strangers crawl and / Crush the petals on the floor”

“Through the Looking Glass” by Symphony X
– a bizarre metal epic in three parts

“Looking Glass” by Hypnogaja – “So go ask Alice / Why the hatter is mad / She’ll turn when you see her / And laugh and laugh”

“Off With Your Head” by Mz Ann Thropik – “And the Cheshire cat with his evil grin / And the Mad Hatter with his cups of tea / No size matters to the caterpillar”

And my absolute obsession for the past couple weeks: “The Streets Fell Into My Window” by The Red Paintings – it begins and ends with a voiceover from the story itself (slightly modified) in a deliciously evil sort of way, and the middle of the song isn’t directly Alice related but is just so haunting I can’t get it out of my mind

As you can see by the Wikipedia article, there are many, many more of these, and I’m sure that will only continue now that the Burton movie will draw in a new generation of Alice fanatics.

Alice in Wonderland

`Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

When I mention the Girls Underground concept to people, they often immediately make the connection with Alice in Wonderland. This book and its sequel, over 100 years old, are probably the most widely-known examples of the storyline. And yet, in some ways it does not precisely fit the plot points, falling somewhere between the earlier fairytale examples and modern fiction and film. (Although, interestingly, Lewis Carroll’s first version of the story was actually called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, emphasizing the journey down the rabbit hole.)

Alice is seven years old, pretty much the youngest age on the spectrum. Her parents do not come into play in the story at all, and her sister doesn’t watch her closely enough to keep her from following the white rabbit into the otherworld on a whim. While aided (and thwarted, harrassed, threatened, etc.) by various creatures along her way, Alice doesn’t really have any companions as such, which is a key element of the Girls Underground archetype. She is pretty starkly alone in that world. And while there is an adversary (female, as is usually the case in young-protagonist versions), it is not the main tension of the story. Rather, the focus is on Alice’s journey and all the strange things and beings she encounters.

However, there are several important plot points present: She spends time forgetting herself in the wood of forgotten names, as well as having drug-like experiences with the cakes and mushroom which make her change size and lead to a tenuous grip on reality and her own self-awareness. She has a showdown with the Red Queen, revealing that all of her court are merely a pack of cards. There is the episode in the sheep shop, which echoes many “junk store” vignettes from other examples. And in the second book, she becomes greater than she once was, a queen of that world.

I think, however, what fascinates me most about the Alice stories (and I am quite the fan) is what has happened since Carroll wrote them, how they have captured people’s imaginations in so many varied ways. Some people seem to see them as quaint, silly stories, while others note the drug imagery and darkness hinted at throughout. This is most explicit when looking at the myriad film and television versions of Alice that have been produced in the past century (a list of those I’ve seen, with comments, can be found here). Everything from cartoons to stop-motion animation to live action to opera to stage theatre to even a porno can be found in the Alice genre, ranging from dark and terrifying to light family-oriented entertainment. Personally, I prefer the darker versions, but that may say more about me than it does about Alice.

Each year, I celebrate all of these films and many other manifestations of the Alice books with a holiday I created called Alice Days. With thematic decorations, food, costumes, intoxicants, music, movies, games and activities, it is a surreal and terribly fun event that has only gotten better with time. I encourage others to pick this up and tailor it to their own view of Alice.

Alice is indeed a literal girl underground, descending into the earth in pursuit of the white rabbit and finding much more than she bargained for. Little fazes her. She accepts the strangeness she finds and enjoys it. Which may sometimes be the only way to deal with such a journey.

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

Some interesting Alice books:
Alice’s Journey Beyond the Moon by R.J. Carter
The Art of Alice in Wonderland by Stephanie Lovett Stoffel
The Annotated Alice edited by Martin Gardner
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda
Wonderland by Tommy Kovac
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Greg Hildebrandt
All Things Alice by Linda Sunshine
Lewis Carroll in Wonderland by Stephanie Lovett Stoffel

Other links:
Alice in Wonderland, an interactive adventure
Lewis Carroll homepage
Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland site
Lauren’s Alice in Wonderland site
The White Rabbit
Alice’s Shop

An exploration of story…

In which I describe examples of the Girls Underground archetype that I have discovered in literature and film. For more information regarding the concept, including its earlier incarnations in fairytales and mythology, visit the pages linked above. Here is a list of all the examples I have covered thus far.

The Oracle

THE GIRLS UNDERGROUND STORY ORACLE - tapping into the Power of Story for guidance and insight. Learn more here.

Alice Days

Celebrate one of the primary inspirations for Girls Underground - Alice in Wonderland - with a holiday down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass! Check out the Alice Days page for party ideas, movie recommendations, and more.


  • 241,475 journeys underground

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