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Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is messed up in some ways—we’ll get to that in a second—but it’s seriously beautiful at intervals that command attention. There’s a war theme in it that’s pursued with surprising gravity. Example: the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is heading an insurgency against the savagely cruel Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and urges Alice (Mia Wasikowska) to play her part by slaying the Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee).

Alice says, primly, “I don’t slay,” and the Hatter says, with angry severity, “You don’t slay?

Not only is that a nice play on the early 20th century response, “You don’t say?” (signifying incredulity), it’s a great encapsulation of a righteous moral stance that we don’t encounter much lately. That is: in such a world as this, blighted and murderous, filled with monsters laying waste to everything good, you consider yourself above taking violent action against monsters? Shame!

March 7th, 2010 | Comments (41)