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[personal profile] plumgirl
Although I thought the film was kind of blahblahTimBurtonstylismblahblah and needed something different from the quirky designs and music that always seem to be rehash of other Tim Burton films, I still very much like the characters and like the development of Alice. While sitting there watching the film, I recall thinking that the plot sometimes got in the way of the message. So did some of the outlandish characters. But at the end of the film, I started to forgive the movie for being clunky and all about running, because at the very end, if I just refocused my attention to the protagonist, one could resonate with Alice as she finally figured out who she was. In a way, the very turning point of this movie comes at its last few minutes, where the heroine suddenly figures out "Who is Alice," and "What will Alice do next."

Sure, there are things that are a bit too familiar -- from the actors, voices (seriously, Willy Wonka all over again), and the stereotypical fantasy imagery of Alice in armor with a sword. (Not that I mind this, but it was rather curious that they played to the archetypes too broadly.) But still, I like that it's the sort of movie that's good for young girls and old girls. I kind of like that Tim Burton has taken on the silent/present voice of adults in trying to get out a simple message: "Figure out who you are and don't let time and the generic adult world confuse you."

And I can forgive the packaging a bit (even if it is predicable and not wonder-inspiring because it is characteristic Burton design that we've all become too accustomed to), as sometimes the vehicle makes the message stick better in impressionable young minds. The base audience for this isn't the people who saw Edward Scissorhands or the Burton Batman films -- rather it's a new generation of families and girls. Maybe the images and the messages will somehow stick . Maybe ten years from now, those girls who watch this film will reach adulthood, knowing their inner Alice.


On a personal note, I realized while watching one of the early scenes (particularly where the Cheshire Cat appears) that I am utterly jealous of the animators who get to work on something like that.
Taking a story, a few illustrations, and concepts and making it fully 3D realized character is awesome. It makes me so sick with envy. If I had lots of money and time, I'd put myself back through school to learn this kind of animation and then buy supercomputers like Pixar has to make ridiculous worlds with cute tsundere things.

I want to also just say how touching it can be to unearth something about a wonderful unique creative brain. Yesterday I was also skimming through some of the Miyazaki interview bonuses on the DVD release "Ponyo" and found myself stupified by the collective footage. When watching him talk, you not only know that Miyazaki is ultimately a creative genius, but a kind person -- a sincerely good person who goes beyond just "being good." And one wonders about that kind of kindness, about creating something from nothing just so you can speak to different children of all ages. I find it fascinating that Ponyo came out of a desire on his part to make a movie for five year olds -- the little children he was seeing with his staffers. (And I found my heart just hurting when Suzuki, his producer, revealed that Miyazaki's lifelong dream was to open a nursery . )

I have a theory that people who love children and are attuned to them somehow grow up to find themselves trying to reconnect to that point in time and making creative things is a form of communication. Interestingly, Miyazaki caught me off guard when he then stated "My Neighbor Totoro" was a story that he wanted to make for his younger self who grew up in the city and never knew the Japanese countryside. He made that movie to show a time before televisions and before Japan was so disconnected from nature. He wanted to show other people the same thing.

And so -- this was something I found so refreshing and interesting of a concept. It's not "writing for yourself," but rather "writing to yourself."

I"ve never thought about writing and creating that way before. It's not that we just want to download our inner monologues, our thoughts, exorcise our demons and slap them on some kind of 2D medium and hope for some kind of validation from our audience -- but rather -- we are working things out for ourselves, we are trying to tell ourselves something.

And so maybe I need to think about this some more. I have a feeling I am writing to myself, a younger self still hopeful that in the end, all this questioning in life, and all these uncertain feelings, will eventually work themselves out.

I changed the previous version in which the woman was young and beautiful to an older, slightly more weatherworn creature. I think I really wanted to emphasize the ambiguity of the predicament that this woman finds herself in. A near dead guy shows up nearly drowned in your pool. Do you interfere with the course of events that led him there or in a fit of cynicism, let him drown?

I just thought a pretty girl was more likely to save a pretty boy. An older woman who knows better... well, hahaha.

on 2010-03-15 08:48 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
i didn't much like Alice when i saw it--i thought it was rather poorly written and heavyhanded on the moralizing--but your perspective has helped me appreciate it so much more. thanks. <3

as for writing--i'm in probably too dark a place to believe in this myself right now, but maybe this indicates (at least from a Miyazaki-type perspective) how that kind of writer can't be a cynic at heart. there's always hope, no matter what a faith that things will--someday--make sense to yourself. even if you have to do your own explaining.

on 2010-03-17 05:04 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
As a story, you're absolutely right - it is ridiculously ADD and clumsy. As a character piece, I could accept it simply on the final few minutes. Definitely do not like this kind of structuring though for a movie. It probably read better as a script, but movies really need a different kind of narrative as many times I was literally thinking "this is too long, *yawn*

Miyazaki is probably a humongous optimist and the perspective he offers does reflect that. Certainly someone who doesn't have the same kind of attitude towards people would probably write out of different (and equally valid) reasons.

Ultimately, I want to be more of an optimist and also find more of an inner motivation to push me forward, particularly as I'm not sure I can rely so much on external factors to keep me going anymore. Last year I really felt like I lost something as a person. I think losing one of my creative friends really just sort of pushed me off track. Seeing art in practice (and such a greedy practice) at conventions also really contaminated my drive.

I'm hoping I can turn that around this year somehow.

on 2010-03-15 01:17 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Aw, this makes me love Miyazaki even more. Every year, I'm afraid he's going to stop creating things and stop writing. His movies never cease to bring something to my heart personally, whether it's feelings of a childhood I've long forgotten as I've gotten older or just wanting to reconnect with myself as a person and evaluating myself. <3 Miyazaki.

on 2010-03-17 05:07 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I love his movies because they constantly evoke wonder and a love for people... I feel that not having him around as a creative force would be such a loss for so many people. And then he's such a good citizen overall - what he does as far as raising awareness of various environmental and sociological issues in Japan is amazing. I feel that the man doesn't get enough respect for what he does outside his country because, unfortunately, people tend to dismiss the 2D medium as "kid's stuff."

But yeah - I really enjoyed these interview snippets on these DVDs. I may end up buying the upcoming special edition rereleases of Totoro, Laputa and Kiki if they have more stuff like this! I had never ever seen interview with him before like this -- and in all my years on the Nausicaa listserv -- never this kind of insight into Miyazaki, the person.

on 2010-03-15 09:04 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

I was vaguely interested in Alice until I saw trailers... and lost interest. But maybe I should see it after all.

It's not "writing for yourself," but rather "writing to yourself."

That's such a lovely sentiment. And it makes so much sense, too. And explains so much about the sense of wonder present in all of Miyazaki's movies.

on 2010-03-17 05:09 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I probably would tell you to wait. If you had to pick a movie to see in theater, it's better to pick Avatar .

There are some serious flaws with this film as a story. It is only as a character study that I can say it was interesting. Certainly a better film for tweenies, though, than alot of the other teen age romance drama out there :-/

And Miyazaki is totally awesome. I really admire his way of thinking. I wish I could be so visionary and passionate and courageous.

on 2010-03-15 11:43 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
"It's not "writing for yourself," but rather "writing to yourself."
I"ve never thought about writing and creating that way before. It's not that we just want to download our inner monologues, our thoughts, exorcise our demons and slap them on some kind of 2D medium and hope for some kind of validation from our audience -- but rather -- we are working things out for ourselves, we are trying to tell ourselves something.

This is an interesting revelation. I've always believed the whole "exorcise our demons and slap them on some kind of 2D medium and hope for some kind of validation from our audience" bit, but I like your idea so much better. :)

on 2010-03-17 05:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
It's not my idea , but Miyazaki's ;)

But I also like that he's so introspective as a writer and thinking always about communicating something. That's far better than a lot of writing which today I feel is simply about entertaining and making money (or getting a film deal).

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