Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
“Take the narrative back the way Alice does.”
As we saw in Disney’s 2010 live-action adaptation of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is a pioneer in a time not conducive to her defiant feminist spirit. She bucked the traditions of patriarchal society by not marrying, setting about on a course for adventure by running her father’s shipping company in the sequel, ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. However the path ahead isn’t an easy one, encountering sexism in the real world which leads to an introspective journey, well, through the looking glass.
The main theme of the movie, as well as Lewis Carroll’s source material, is that time is working against Alice. As women in the industry, this concept takes on a whole new meaning. At the film’s recent Los Angeles press conference, Anne Hathaway, who reprises her role as the elegant Queen Mirana, said she was moved by a one scene in particular.
“There was one scene I was surprised to find myself really crying during. When Alice wakes up and was in the mental institution and the reasons she was being committed were because she was ‘excitable’ and ‘imaginative.’ They said, ‘typical female hysteria,’ and try to inject her with a drug to dull her to make her less herself and controllable. She fights back and turns it around. I was bursting with pride to be in a movie that is taking the narrative back. In terms of time, I invite you to stop the narrative saying women lose power as they get older. I don’t feel it’s happening as I get older. I find I’m becoming way more powerful as I get older. I’m tired of myself feeling the opposite. Take the narrative back the way Alice does.”
Wasikowska felt it’s odd that a female-led “summer movie” is considered an anomaly – that it should become something that’s commonplace.
“It’s an anomaly to have a big Summer film, a blockbuster, that has a female lead. It’s strange that that’s unusual. Hopefully that will become more normalized.”
Producer Suzanne Todd concurred,
“To be talking about a big summer movie and also be talking about female empowerment is fantastic. Hopefully that’s a step toward change.”
Not only have character-driven emotional throughlines grown more resounding, bringing to life the action within has also increased – a task that left Wasikowksa smiling even whilst being pummeled with cold water in period appropriate garb in the wee hours of the morning.
While Wasikowska humbly stated,
“I did a couple of very minor things.”
Director James Bobin further explained,
“The journey it undertakes, to save the Hatter, involves some physical work, for sure. But I’m always very keen to keep them in the realm of the character. And this character is not a superhero – she’s a girl who’s brave and has intelligent thoughts. When you watch the sequences, I was very keen to show that we made sure that Alice struggles to do these things. It’s not easy. She’s a sea captain, but she’s also a person; she can climb the rigging, but it’s not easy. She can jump the hands of a clock, but she falls over. I didn’t want to make her feel too competent because she wouldn’t be. She’s competent because she’s brave and strong and determined.
On the ship, we were shooting at night in England in November. She did it all in a 19th century frock coat. So she was battering waves and waves… lips blue. It was like ice forming on the decks.”
Wasikowska jokingly questioned the crews motives,
“Do you think everyone enjoyed throwing water on me at night? We did a lot of takes.”
“You were definitely smiling, which is unbelievable.”
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS opens on May 27.
Feature Photo: Anne Hathaway is the White Queen and Mia Wasikowska is Alice in Disney’s ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.