Imaginative journeys that take place in the film adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland explore the themes of imagination, magic and freedom. This allows the responder to be able to journey with the main characters and evaluate the perception of their experience and discoveries by applying it to ourselves and others. Alice in Wonderland is an immortal tale of fantasy and wonder that follows the tale of a young girl who falls asleep in a meadow and dreams of entering a magical world, filled with strange adventures and magical creatures.
The protagonist of the film Alice uses magic as a form of distraction, resulting from her fear of singing in front of public audiences. Magic is symbolised through the constant music in the film. This is evident when Alice opens the door to the beautiful garden. The director uses a calming instrumental piece of music to show the difference between the reality in Alice’s life and the reality in the magical world behind the small door. The use of a close up shot enforces Alice’s facial expressions to show the audience her excitement and interest in entering the garden.
What the audience discovers in Alice’s magical journey is that she’s trying to use magic and her imagination as a platform for self-expression. For example, the rabbit and all the magical characters she meets, from the rude caterpillar to the Cheshire cat, all help her through her imaginative journey. Her fear of speaking in front of people is a reoccurring motif and each character plays a part in helping her overcome this fear. The caterpillar tells her “everything has a purpose, even here”.
Her ‘purpose’ was not only to escape her boring life with magic and imagination, but rather meet that life head on and conquer her fears. Another issue involved is that of freedom. The audience must understand that Alice comes from a social context where children are only meant to be seen, not heard. What the audience gathers from her journey is that her effort to escape and find herself is just a means for her to find her form of freedom.
This is shown by the way she has the freedom to either drink or not to drink the potion “if I drink this, ill be small enough to climb under the door” referring to the beautiful garden that she thinks “looks safe and no one will look for me there”. The high camera angle of the garden enables the audience to understand why Alice wishes to go there. Though the Cheshire cat reminds her, “Sometimes things that look safe, turn out to be nasty”.
The audience discovers that Alice is able to go through the process of an imaginative journey so she can be free. This helps the audience understand that in their own world it doesn’t matter what age, race or sex you are, the imaginative journey is part of humanity and it is the key towards a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Therefore through the themes of imagination, magic and freedom the audience is able to experience Alice’s imaginative journey and gain a better understanding of themselves and others.