[SPOILER alert: If you haven’t seen the latest “Alice in Wonderland” film you may not want to read on]
I tend to see the “deep” in just about everything. I can’t help it really. Because of this I’m always watching for messages and morals in movies and books and when I find one it can move me and stay with me a while, giving me ponder material. When I saw the “Fellowship of the Ring” and watched near the end as Sam tried to swim after Frodo to keep him from going on his terrible quest alone, I cried seeing the loyalty and tenacity of his friendship played out on the big screen. I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise. “Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.” And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to. It was beautiful to me. Likewise when I watched the last movie, “Return of the King” I was moved at the visual image of battle scenes between good and evil, dark and light…the willing sacrifice to fight for what was right in a last-ditch effort to push back what was so wrong. It reminded me of the world we live in and the battle we fight as followers of Christ.
Sometimes when I mention what I learned from or got out of a movie, my family will humor me with rolled eyes but then say things like “I thought the graphics were amazing!” or “I liked the fight scene” or “wasn’t it funny when Gandalf smacked Sam on the head with his staff?” I do remember after watching “Napoleon Dynamite” a few years ago, Krissy saying to me, “I didn’t see any lesson in that movie, Mom.” I actually agreed with her on that one.
I was surprised when we went to see the latest remake of “Alice in Wonderland” to find myself inspired by some of what I saw and heard. I had heard that the movie was weird – it’s Tim Burton’s creation after all – and that it wasn’t that great. I disagree!
In this story, Alice has grown up and is now in her late teens, headed toward a stuffy, snobbish gathering where she’s about to be proposed to by a pale, red-headed, weak-chinned man named “Hamish.” Her father, a visionary man who always encouraged her imagination and believed in her, had died and Alice seems to be a little “lost” – not sure what she wants or who she is supposed to be. When Hamish pops the question she finds herself needing “a moment” and ends up running off, falling down the rabbit hole and into wonderland again. It’s not her first visit, though she doesn’t remember that yet. As she meets the odd inhabitants they think they recognize her but aren’t sure. They keep saying, “Are you THE Alice?” They take her to see a wise blue caterpillar named Absolom who lounges on a giant mushroom smoking a hookah pipe. Although he says she is “hardly” THE Alice, He shows her the “araculum” scroll which is an old picture calendar of sorts, showing every day that has been and every day that will be. As she lays it out with her hands and looks down she sees that it even has a picture drawn on it in ancient pen of Alice looking at the araculum scroll with her new friends! She’s bewildered to say the least – especially when they show her a picture of a day soon to come when she stands with sword in hand to face and slay the fearsome Jabberwocky. “That’s not me!” she cries, denying what seems to the others to be her destiny.
The Mad Hatter who knows she is the one he met before tells her, “You used to be much more…’muchier.’ You’ve lost your muchness.” As she faces fears with success in order to rescue him and other new friends she grows in resolve and confidence. When given the opportunity to step forward as the champion for the white queen, she holds back in fear, telling Absolom (who is now spinning his cocoon) “But you said I was ‘hardly’ Alice.” He replies as the cocoon draws closer and closer around him that she was “hardly” herself but has followed the path of self-discovery and now must decide if she is the Alice they were expecting, the one pictured on the scroll. He tells her that like himself, she is transforming. She marches out to face the enemy saying to herself, “My father used to tell me he believed in as many as six impossible things a day before breakfast.” Then as she fights, she lists six impossible things she saw right before her eyes in wonderland, all the way up to herself defeating the Jabberwocky. And she does.
When she goes back to the “real world” she is confident and happy, letting the others know she plans to be herself and follow the visions and talents she has, finding her real destiny. She ends up following in her father’s footsteps, eagerly stepping out to do the impossible.
Do you see the parallels that I see? If not, that’s okay, just humor me. As we’re growing on our path of self-discovery and God discovery, we become more “muchier” and start to believe in impossible becoming possible. If God were to show us a picture of what we will be down the road we might think, “That’s not me!” But with each step of faith, we soon find that we are no longer “hardly” ourselves. As we face our fears and find success through God’s Holy Spirit, we grow in confidence and realize that it’s okay to dream, it’s okay to be ourselves, to follow the path of our Father who is definitely a visionary who actually does at least six impossible things a day before breakfast.