Alice Again: A look at “Alice: Through the Looking Glass”

What to expect when Wonderland returns

A nineteen year old girl falls down a rabbit hole after running away from her engagement party. A big-headed queen uses a talking dragon as her star warrior. And the resident crazy neighbor takes up hat-making.

In 2010, Tim Burton brought Lewis Carroll’s fantastic novel to life with his film Alice in Wonderland. While the film included plenty of differences from the book, the famous story was beloved once again by audiences, earning the film over $1 billion in the box office. Six years later, Burton is set to release the sequel, Through the Looking Glass, on May 27. Through the Looking Glass will feature the same cast as the first film, including Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Mia Wasikowska, and will introduce new members, like Sacha Baron Cohen.

Alice: Through the Looking Glass follows Alice’s return to Underland in order to help her unwell friend, the Hatter. In order to save him, Alice encounters Time, which leads to some strange and enlightening adventures into the pasts of Underland’s well known characters.

The film introduces Time as a character, half man, half clock, which is an entity nonexistent in either of Carroll’s novels. Dr. Jan Susina, a professor of Children’s Literature at Illinois State University and generally regarded Alice expert, said, “Time is mentioned in both books. We hear about him, but we never see him.”

When the first film was set to release, the New York Times contacted Susina for an article in which he commented on the story’s increased violence when moved to the big screen. When asked about his expectations for the new film, Susina brought the violent nature of the film to attention once again.

“The film is more violent,” Susina said, “In [the book] Alice in Wonderland, we are told that the Queen never executes anybody. It’s all her fancy, but in the film, we see Alice steps over the heads of severed people in the moat, including the ex-king. It’s also a little bit more ‘sexy.’”

Comparing Burton’s film adaptation with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrates numerous differences, which may cause problems when attempting to make Through the Looking Glass into it’s big screen counterpart.

Susina said, “Because they borrowed so much from Looking Glass, it’s interesting how they’re gonna work it out.” A large chunk of the character list from the movie Alice in Wonderland is originally from the book Through the Looking Glass, making the first movie heavily reliant on Looking Glass for its content. The first film’s prime villains, the Red Queen and the Jabberwocky, are actually both elements from the second book, while characters like the Mad Hatter and the Chesire Cat are from the first book. The addition of Looking Glass characters and their storylines into the original movie makes the compilation of the sequel film unpredictable.

Susina, when asked about how the second film could compensate for Alice in Wonderland’s use of its elements, said, “I’m not sure what they’re gonna do because they’re not following the books.” He said that the differences from the novels give the movie a lot more freedom, essentially letting them do whatever they like.

The trailer for the new movie demonstrates that the elements from the second book that were not included in the first film won’t be much of an issue. Most of the characters from the first film, no matter where their literary counterparts exist, will return in the second film. New characters include Humpty Dumpty, the Mad Hatter’s father, and Time. Of these new characters, only Humpty Dumpty was in either of the novels, which shows the independence that the films have from the books. Susina said, “Alice will have to change in some ways, I think, to make it an interesting story.”

While the film may be separated drastically from the book, the film is still projected to do well at the box office. According to an article on, Looking Glass should have a loyal fanbase to follow it, but there are a few drawbacks that could prevent it from gaining as much as the first film did.

Looking Glass is in competition with other major movies to come out this year. Disney’s list of movies this year includes the third installment of Captain America as well as a new Star Wars film out in December. Looking Glass likely will not gain as much as either of these mega-series films will, making it the lowest grossing Disney film for the year.

Not only does its production company provide competition, but Looking Glass is set to release the week after the newest X-Men film. The X-Men movies have obtained billions of dollars over the years as well as thousands of fans, making it a large competitor for Alice’s next adventure.

The best that one can say about Alice: Through the Looking Glass is that there is nothing really to say. Expect the unexpected, and prepare for anything. As Susina said, “It’s Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, not Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.”