Personally I believe, that this is because of all the fictions in the world, fairy-tales are one realm where women characters get equal billing with their male counterparts. More often, in fact, women get the top billing, as protagonists and antagonists, while the male cast plays the bit parts. They are the gormless kings, who haven't the faintest clue their new wives might be out the get their daughters, and less-than-ingenious princes, who need to be rescued just as frequently as they rescue the maiden in disstress.
Truth be known, most of the original versions of such classic tales, as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White, had the girls themselves who tricking the wolf, exposing the witches, and killing their enemies. It was only as we neared the 20th century, that these girls became more witless and vulnerable with every re-telling.
Among them though, is one late addition, who has always been the hero of her tale, and has remained an enduring inspiration to generations young ladies peeking down the rabbit hole.
Of the many girl heroines of children's literature Alice seems to have the kind of staying power many other heroines lack. Sure, it's Cinderella who's story-line dominates the preferred narratives of most adult women (witness Sex & The City, any romantic comedy, and countless chick-lit novels), but it seems that many a female artist, and young woman outside the mainstream still identifies with Alice. She is, after all, just like us; a little lost and bewildered, headstrong, clever, adventurous, rebellious and outspoken. Certainly not a Disney Princess™.
According to some she is even something of a fashion icon.
(Image by thecherryblossomgirl)
She has been cast in many different roles in popular culture; including a grown-up comic book heroine of Alan Moore's Lost Girls, the violent and cynical survivor in American McGee's game Alice, and soon, so we hear, Tim Burton will make her over once more in an upcoming movie.
I'm hoping it'll be something like this trippy, mostly forgotten masterpiece, by Robert E. Lee. (Curiouser and curiouserly enough, the late Theresa L. Duncan was developing a project with the same name, also loosely based on the book. Starring Beck. Another link in the Great Theresa Duncan Mystery, perhaps?)
There have, of course, already been many film Adaptations of Alice's tale. There's, the seminal Disney version, in all it's PG psychedelic glory.
Not the mention the 1985 American version, that could be titled the "oh my"-version.
Along those lines also moves the 1999 version. Only with better CGI.
And let's not forget the 1933 version, starring such olden time-y Hollywood stars as Lillian Harmer, Cary Grant and W.C. Fields
Then there is the decidedly strange "Dreamchild". Yeah, what really did happen in that long-lost Victorian summer?
And then, finally, my personal favorite, whom I watched from VHS until the tape warped, the dark, obstinate, beautiful and often downright terrifying Alice, of director Jan Svenkmajer.
Witness the disturbing taxidermied nature of the White Rabbit, the"real doll" Alice, and the eye-balled little critters. Not to mention the creepy insect-like sound effects.
As a kid I loved Svenkmajer's Alice, because like most children's stories (at least the good ones) the original story contains a great deal of darkness, and this adaptation taps into it directly. Unlike the sanitized and sugar-coated versions of fairy-tales and children's stories would lead you to believe, most kids are perfectly capable of handling a little darkness, fear, and madness in their fiction. You could even say that these elements must be in place for a fairy-tale to become a true classic. It was, after all, their original purpose to warn children and adults alike about the very real dangers of the world.