Around 2004 I went to see a film by Istvan Szabo at Cinematheque and he spoke at the screening. He said something about how certain faces - not necessarily beautiful faces - captivate viewers when they are shown on screen. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but I think he wondered whether certain faces contained a universal appeal or if they had something that allowed a great number of people to project an emotion (or an ideal or a familiarity, or one's self) onto them.
I was surfing around IMDb and I discovered that Tim Burton is directing a live-action /CG 3D Alice in Wonderland.
I had mixed reactions. While I like Tim Burton's work a lot, I'm not convinced that Alice in Wonderland has ever succeeded in its transposition to the screen. Perhaps I'm a purist and can't let go of the original Tenniel illustrations. (I do not even think that any of the contemporary illustrators for Alice have done a memorable job.) Possibly, because I read The Annotated Alice, in which Martin Gardner delves into the mathematics and Victorian references behind the text. Mostly, I believe, because the joy of the book is not in the story, but in the telling of it - in the wordplay. How do you get this in a film:
"However, this bottle was NOT marked 'poison,' so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off."
I'm sure that Burton's Mad Tea Party will be sublime - especially as Johnny Depp will play the Mad Hatter - but there's something a bit predictable about it all. Tenniel's illustrations will come to life... with STRIPES! While Alice's Adventures in Wonderland can be quite dark, I wonder if Burton's "darkness" is the right...tone?
I started out talking about faces, didn't I?