We’ve all grown up with classic stories, everything from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, to‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, and ‘Harry Potter’. Each story, whichever you held dear, whether it was the Hobbit’s of Middle Earth or a girl named Dorothy, they each affected you, shaped your way of thinking, of reading, of which kinds of worlds you preferred. One of mine was ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and seeing it unfold on the screen was always something I loved.
The Disney adaptation was by far one of my favourite films to watch when I was a child, I always wondered if there really was such a place like Wonderland, of course, I was only a child and the imagination runs away with young minds. I’m older now and I still love that world Alice discovered after falling down a rabbit hole. A place where nothing makes sense but oddly enough, makes sense because it’s a place where madness isn’t exactly what we think it is and normal seems nonexistent, in a world where everything is not normal. But then, that’s the norm in that world. See, I can’t even write a sentence without the magic of Wonderland affecting my words. It has a certain quality; it allows the child to run free and the adult to question.
I recently saw the second installment of the ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’adaptations, the first followed the Disney film, as though Alice had been to Wonderland as a child and went back as an adult, and then the second was loosely based off the second novel. Though, both the films stories are different and tweaked, they follow strange patterns but oddly enough tie together quite well. Though, I prefer the novels, the films, I thought, were quite good. And while I’ll always love the Disney film the most, these two films weren’t as awful as some people perceived.
The thing that struck a chord with me was the question of madness, who is to decide what is madness and what is not? What exactly is normal? What makes normal different to madness? Isn’t it only decided by what society has laid out? Hasn’t it been decided for us? Have we been able to make that choice?
No, it’s all predetermined; we are conditioned by society, by something spoon fed for generations, into clean slates, into bodies that know no different. Is the Hatter insane? Is Alice? The fall down the rabbit hole, the talking animals, the strange paths to nowhere, a crazy queen who is obsessed with red and a huge dragon monster that destroys everything it touches – is this all madness?
But maybe it means something else. Maybe madness isn’t as black and white as we are forced to believe. Maybe, just as Alice is prompted to conform to society’s ideals, we should also ponder what we are fed. Alice decides she’s not going to give up her independence and imagination for the typical life role that was put upon women’s shoulders; she decides to take her own path, putting matters in her hands. The Hatter though unsure of his mental health, seems mostly sane to us, even though he’s not but we like that he’s not, suggesting that madness, is not always a bad thing. It is only bad because it has been deemed so.
If anything, the wonderful world that Alice takes us to, makes us realise that in growing up, we do not need to hide or sacrifice this madness. We do not need to let go of our imagination. Our inner child can stay for as long as they wish, because growing up does not mean letting go.
After all, the best kinds of people are mad.