There are few pastimes more satisfying to me than settling into a theater seat and watching a 3D movie. The best 3D movies take me to a place where I’m immersed in a new world, usually a visually stunning one. Riding on the back of a dragon-like creature soaring over a canyon. Walking a path deep in a forest of odd creatures or familiar ones made luminescent. Navigating the streets of a quaint village. Entering a hobbit house. It’s like taking a brief vacation to an unfamiliar land.
Even in these movies, story is just as important as the immersive experience. The young orphaned Hugo living in a train station in Paris and discovering the world through a mentor. The threatened homeland of the Na’vis and how they fight back. The unexpected examination of good and evil of Maleficent. I admit that if I want to enter these mythical worlds, I may be willing to overlook some issues with the storyline but not all.
When I decided last week to see Alice Through the Looking Glass, early reviews had me thinking that I would be more satisfied with the visuals than what the story had to offer. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Yes, the cinematic world I found myself drawn into was close to the most beautiful I’d ever experienced. A view of a pastry filled table ready for a tea party is replaced by a shimmering world of time and timepieces. A girl with experience captaining her own ships guides a Chronosphere over a churning sea. But more than the visuals is what’s at the heart of this story that has been overlooked over Johnny Depp’s odd Mad Hatter and his personal problems: this story is about a girl who is smart and courageous. Alice opens as the captain of her deceased father’s ship, finding her way out of a dilemma while the males in her crew prefer to surrender to the pirates. She challenges the man who wants to relegate her to a clerk’s position in what was her father’s company. And she enters the worlds with dangers lurking without hesitation.
The Writer’s Journey web site describes the Hero’s Journey as:
“[A] pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization.
In Alice Through the Looking Glass, Alice as heroine fits that pattern with two exceptions: she doesn’t hesitate to heed the call and she doesn’t require a mentor. She reasons out her own trail and learns from her mistakes.
Unfortunately, many will avoid the movie because of reviews that miss this aspect, and others will shun it because of Depp’s character. Interrupt the latter any way you want. This is a movie I want to show to children of either gender to give them an opportunity to decide for themselves.