Alice in Wonderland: Muchness Makes for Good Cinema
By Jill Brown
For a person of no particular importance I find myself more often than not reflecting on my rather interestingly charmed life lately. Living in Los Angeles had been a dream of mine for years, but moving was a very difficult choice and sadly, but honestly, I will admit that had it not been for being madly in love with a man who resided here, I don’t know that I would’ve had the courage to come. But I was and I did and the rest is, as they say, history.
And through my time in this city I have discovered a rather likeable woman who, as it turns out, is me. I’ve discovered my “muchness.”
You may be wondering what that is exactly. Well much like Alice who travels back to Underland (the Tim Burton rewrite of the land previously known as Wonderland) to get her groove back, I had to make a personal journey of my own to be in the wonderful life I enjoy today.
That life included an advanced press junket screening two weeks ago of the new Tim Burton directed film, Alice in Wonderland. You knew Alice was going to look different in real life (as opposed to her animated younger self in the Disney cartoon from 1951) but the story takes on a much more adult look and feel. Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska, is nineteen and as the film begins is being proposed to by the undesirable but very wealthy son of one of her recently deceased father’s business partners. At the height of the English Victorian era, Alice is of course expected to take this marriage offer and complete her life as the wife of nobility. To prolong her answer to his unwanted question, she has a brush with the white rabbit and, begging her proposers pardon, follows the white rabbit back down the rabbit hole to the Wonderland of her childhood dreams. She encounters many of the characters from her previous visit including the twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the blue smoking caterpillar and the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), as well as the new characters, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).
Throughout the film there is a debate as to whether or not this is “the” Alice; the real Alice of before, now grown up, who has the courage and spirit to help the suffering characters to defeat the tyrannical and oppressive rule of the Red Queen. Alice goes through her own doubt and self-discovery during her adventure to try to discover for herself whether or not she is indeed “the” Alice, the champion of good and right in this magical reality.
I think the most compelling scene in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and the one that resonated the most with me personally and will with all the single minded women out there, comes about half way through the film when Alice is doubting her significance and role. She doesn’t believe she’s been to Underland before, thinking her previous voyage was just a bad childhood dream and so she doesn’t want to step up and help the Mad Hatter in his rebellion and resistance against the Red Queen. While she expresses her reluctance to take action, the Mad Hatter says to her something along the lines of, “You used to be much muchier before. Yes you were much more Alice the last time we met. You have lost your muchness.”
This causes Alice to wonder if she has in fact lost her “Muchness.”
Burton has said that he chose Alice at this age for a reason; since nineteen can be a pivotal age of self-discovery for a young woman. No longer a girl but not yet a confident fully grown woman. It’s a time of great change, at the crossroads between a past of dependency and a future of courageous exploration and change. But whether your nineteen or much older, I think all women can learn a great lesson from Alice’s ponderings over her muchness. You face crossroads in your life almost daily. Often you want to play it safe and not risk too much and just like Alice, you’re perhaps scared to embrace your magnificence and purpose. But if you can heed the advice (and warning) of the Mad Hatter and truly be “much muchier” I believe that just like Burton’s Alice, you can be great.
Alice in Wonderland is visually spectacular, a totally new adventure in a fantastical reality and has the themes of growth and discovery that appeal and apply to women of all ages. It’s worth a watch and definitely your muchness is worth re-discovering!
Jill Brown is a Los Angeles, California-based life coach and writer. She earned her Bachelors in Humanities and Sociology from USU and is a member of the National Association for Conflict Resolution and the Ladies Who Launch Network. She is the founder of “The Duchess Guide” a website dedicated to helping women become their most fabulous and unique selves. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, traveler and health nut. When she isn’t writing or working on Duchess, Jill loves spending all her free time with her Labrador – Betty. For more on The Duchess Guide or Jill visit: www.theduchessequation.com
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