Few classic stories have captured the world's imagination like Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." It's so bizarre that some people believe Lewis Carroll was addicted to opium when he wrote it.
In the 150 years since it was published, literally dozens of movies have been made about it. The most popular are arguably the 1951 Disney animated version, and the 2010 Disney live-action version.
However, there are also movies that are less conventional adaptations of the story... and which are also less family-friendly. Here are three movies that tell the story of Alice in very curious ways.
The rest of the article contains some bizarre and sexual imagery.
Malice in Wonderland (2009)
This odd little film was not popular with the critics, but I think it's much better than it gets credit for.
In this version, Alice is 19, and the movie opens with her being chased through the streets of London. She is hit by a cab driver named Whitey, who is late for a very important party thrown by a gay mob kingpin boss (he's both the King and the Queen, get it?).
There is nothing that she eats or drinks at the beginning of her strange journey, but she does take unknown prescription pills.
Whitey agrees to help Alice get home, but she ends up in her own adventures when she meets a pot-smoking pimp named Caterpillar.
I don't want to give away everything, so I'll let you figure out which movie characters are which book characters, and how other parts of the novel are interpreted, like what it means when you "steal tarts".
It's a colorful and fun movie, and there is a nice background theme on the passage of time as an accumulation of unnoticed moments. There's also a strange mini-subplot about human trafficking. And it has a very ambiguous ending.
Here's the trailer.
This movie is sometimes classified as a kids' movie, especially by people that haven't seen it. And while it does star a little girl and is partly animated, this movie is the version that's most likely to give kids nightmares. Hell, it could give adults nightmares.
It was made by surreal Czech animator Jan Svankmajer, and is a mix of live action and stop-motion animation. Svankmajer believed that the Alice story isn't really a fairy tale, because the book is written like a dream. He wanted his movie to reflect that, because a dream,
as an expression of our unconscious, uncompromisingly pursues the realisation of our most secret wishes without considering rational and moral inhibitions, because it is driven by the principle of pleasure. My 'Alice' is a realised dream. - Electric Sheep
This version, for all its aggressive weirdness, does follow the book more closely than a lot of movie versions. Svankmajer also successfully captured the logic of dreams; while the movie is baffling on the surface, there is a deeper, darker, part of you that understands what's going on.
This Alice is not as nice as the Disney Alice. The movie is much more grotesque and violent. In one scene, the White Rabbit cuts Alice with a saw. The movie ends with Alice contemplating whether or not to kill the White Rabbit.
The imagery of the film is completely indescribable, and it's disturbing on levels you can't consciously reach. But it's a masterpiece of surrealist storytelling.
In keeping with the nature of the film, here is a fan-made video of scenes from the movie, set to Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit".
Now, if that wasn't weird enough for you...
Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy (1976)
You are not imagining it. This version is a real musical, and a real 1970's porn flick.
Like many movies of this type, there are censored versions, and 20th Century Fox edited it down to an R-rating in order to put it in regular theaters. But the original version is a full porno.
Believe it or not, this movie is actually a metaphor for competing attitudes towards pleasure. It contrasts the idea that "if it feels good, then it's probably bad" with its counterpart, "if it feels good, then you're doing the right thing."
But don't get it twisted. This is not a thought-provoking masterpiece.
In this version, Alice is an innocent librarian. Her boyfriend really wants to have sex with her, but she's a virgin and wants to stay pure until she gets married. Then she meets the White Rabbit, and follows him through a mirror on a journey of self-discovery.
She meets some creatures in spandex and furry hoods who sing and and who are fascinated with her breasts. Alice explains they will eventually fill with milk, and the creatures want to sample it.
Then she meets a talking rock, which convinces her to sit on it so it can teach her how to masturbate properly.
Then she goes to a tea party with the Mad Hatter. Upon realizing how innocent Alice is (the White Rabbit accuses her of being a virgin), the Hatter proceeds to teach her how to give a proper blow job.
Then Alice continues on her adventures. She come across Humpty Dumpty, who has fallen down. In this movie, that means he can't get it up, even if lesbians dance for him. Alice must use her new skill to help save the poor egg's erection problem.
Anyway, after many wonderful adventures, she meets the King, who tells her it's stupid to wait until marriage to have sex. He proceeds to show her what he means, until the Queen walks in on them, and exclaims that she needs Alice's head. I'll let you figure that one out.
When Alice doesn't want to please the Queen, she's put on trial. There's some singing and dancing, and Alice is found guilty. To celebrate the trial, there's a big orgy.
Alice has learned what it means to be a woman, and that she doesn't need to obey conventional morality, because sex is awesome. She goes back home to fuck her boyfriend. Then they live happily ever after.
I am not making this up.
Here is the trailer for the censored version.