|Posted by DisneyOtoko on June 15, 2012 at 11:10 PM|
World Showcase: Wonderland
Theme Song by Brian Setzer and owned by Walt Disney Records
The next world on the World Showcase is a worldthat’s considered more of a cult merchandise fad and trend nowadays as opposedto a world featured in one of the greatest children’s stories of all time.Wonderland is a zany and nonsensical world created by Lewis Carroll in hisnovel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandfirst published in England in 1865. It’s interesting to note that Alicereceived very poor reviews in its initial publication with the only praisebeing for John Tenniel’s illustrations. It took a few decades for someone torealize the book’s greatness as the best example of brilliant literary nonsenseas a genre. Still the initial praise for the illustrations should be a big cluethat Wonderland is popular more for its creativity, imagination and atmospherethan for the story that takes place inside it. The Lewis Carroll novel has beenadapted to virtually all media over the decades like stage, film (live actionand animated) and even videogames. One of the more famous versions ofWonderland is obviously Disney’s version (animated not the Burton version). Inthis showcase I will talk about Disney’s version, Square’s interpretation ofthe Disney version for Kingdom Hearts, and Tim Burton’s version (even thoughthis is done by Disney too I consider it different because it’s very Burton)and the impact it has had outside the story.
I’m sure that this is the film that introduced mostof us to the story of Alice and our introduction of Wonderland. I always viewedWonderland as Oz on shrooms. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if L. Frank Baumactually ripped off Wonderland when he created Oz. A little girl ends up in astrange and magical place and tries to find her way home and meets a bunch ofodd and quirky characters along the way. Nah they’re completely different!(don’t you love sarcasm?) Disney’s Wonderland is the best representation ofthat idea. It’s magical and strange and it’s not anywhere we’ve ever been. Theart direction of that film is fantastic and it’s alluring. The design makes youwant to delve deeper into the world with Alice and the madness is introducedbit by bit until it’s firing on all cylinders at the end. I thought that was veryclever and is one of the great ways the film sucks you in despite having aweaker story than most fairy tales or Disney films. When I think of Wonderlandthis is the one that comes to my mind.
Tim Burton’s Wonderland
This Wonderland is a very different Wonderland. AsTim Burton is a very different kind of director when it comes to art direction.His combination of light and dark, strange and magical is what makes theatmosphere of his films so unique and great to look at and immerse ourselvesin. It is what makes him in most cases a visionary director. Still I preferthat sort of Oz on shrooms craziness of the animated classic. I know that’s aclassic Disney bias and an upbringing bias the Disney one is the one I grew upon and that’s the one I’m most invested in. Still Burton’s vision is still verygood and has the typical Burton imagination.
Wonderland in the Kingdom Hearts Universe
Wonderland is a special world in the KH universebecause it’s the very first Disney world that Sora, Donald and Goofy (and theplayer) travel to. That’s the main reason why the trio is so surprised ateverything here more than they are in other worlds. One of the things that’sinteresting about Sora’s visit is that while similar to Alice (the trio enterby falling down the rabbit hole) Sora is a more relatable person to follow in Wonderland. I think Sora is far more relatable than a refined English Victorian aristocrat. So Sora reacts in ways that is more relatable to our way ofthinking and feeling. His patience for the Queen of Hearts has a limit and whenit’s reached he doesn’t take that crap. When Sora participates in the Queen’snonsensical trial as Alice’s defense attorney and loses because the Queen makesthe rules he doesn’t take it anymore and beats the crap out of the cardsoldiers (and the queen if you as the player feel up to it) with Donald andGoofy helping him. He also understands the cryptic messages of the Cheshire Catand works them out and the Cheshire Cat points him further toward the leader ofthe Heartless in Wonderland called the Trickmaster. The design of the worlditself is very interesting albeit confusing. The main room where most of theareas in the world are is called the Bizarre Room and the player can walk atvarious angles of that room such as going into areas where you end up on theside wall and even the ceiling. After meeting the Doorknob the 2D drawing ofthe table and chair on the floor become 3D and Sora and company can interactwith the two bottles (one for shrinking and one for growing: note the growingbottle can only be drunk when small and vice versa for shrinking bottle). Anothergenius mechanic of Wonderland is making objects that are 2D images in a roombecome 3D so Sora can interact with that object. For example in order tocontinue Sora must push a 3D bed into the wall which immediately makes the beda 2D image painted on the wall. It reveals the passage way to the Queen’sCastle and the player’s first meeting with Alice. This is idea is very creativeand fits the zany magical Oz on shrooms aspect of the original movie. Somerooms are very box like and to create the idea of depth the walls look likepaintings that look like the image has depth.
Wonderland has appeared 3 more times in the KHuniverse. The second time is in Chain of Memories where Sora revisits the worldas an illusion and learns the more complex matters of how memories as importantas they are can lie to you (think the Kurosawa movie Rashomon). The next time itappeared was with Roxas in KH 358/2 Days where Roxas receives semi guidancefrom the Cheshire Cat on how answers to the most important questions tend tolie closer than one thinks referring to Roxas’s questions to OrganizationXIII’s dubious motives and Roxas’s identity. And even though it did appear inKH Coded that game sucks so it’s not worth mentioning. What is worth mentioningis that I love how KH portrays the Cheshire Cat. Disney often markets CheshireCat as a villain, but I think that’s totally wrong! He’s a neutral characterand besides I don’t think that the story of Alice in Wonderland should have avillain. Not even the Queen of Hearts because it’s all Alice’s dream anyway andher experiences in Wonderland. It’s not a good vs. evil story so I don’t thinkit should have a villain (Heartless are an exception). KH gets it absolutelyright. Here is a link to the cutscenes of Wonderland in the original KingdomHearts.
The music of Wonderland in the animated movie wasmostly original and some were even the companion poems written by Lewis Carrollset to music. However the music that I enjoy the most from Wonderland is theKingdom Hearts music by Yoko Shimomura. It captures the zany aspects of theworld and in the battle themes case the crazy energy the world has. Below arelinks to the KH music of Wonderland!
Welcome to Wonderland (Traversal Theme)
To Our Surprise (Battle Theme)
Wonderland is a world that is more about theexperience of seeing it as opposed to being a setting in a story. The reader,viewer, or player is supposed to follow Alice or Sora and enjoy the ride,visuals and characters encountered in Wonderland. It’s a highly imaginativeworld with great visuals and crazy characters and will continue to enchant andconfuse children for many more decades to come.
Join me next time where I set the Gummi Ship on acourse to the place where heroes are born and made the Olympus Coliseum!
The next event will be a special event where Iexplore a selection of MARVEL animated series from the 1990s to today in MARVELTV Month!