Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #19

Re: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

You need to add an additional “r” and “l” to the word “un-Carolinian” in your response to the Alice in Wonderland where you said, “The attempt to turn her into an interesting character with her own back story and issues is fundamentally un-Carolinian, I think.” You misspelled Lewis Carroll’s last name: it should be un-Carrollinian.

Speaking of misspelled names, your review takes issue with the addition of the letter “y” to the creature called the Jabberwock. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when the Red Queen says, “Someone’s gonna slay my Jabber-baby-wocky?” Is it possible that the added “y” is a way to make the name a diminutive? Does anyone call you Stevie or even Steve?

Unlike you, I think the filmmakers did read the poem. After all, the Mad Hatter recites the poem exactly as it is written. Do you have an explanation for the poem being entitled “Jabberwocky,” anyway?

I’m a Catholic homeschooling mom. My husband, 13½ year old daughter, and I all thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

In C. S. Lewis’s The Four Loves, we find this sentence: “Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke.” Why does Lewis use “Caroline” rather than “Charlian” or something of the sort? Likewise, why is the period of the reign of St. Charles I referred to as the “Caroline era”? Charles, Carl, Karl, Carlo, Caroll, Karol (Pope John Paul II’s baptismal name), among others are all variant forms of the same root, for which the original form may have been the Greek Cyril, but which is rendered in Latin Carolus, making “Carol-” an appropriate base for a generic adjectival reference.

That may not fully excuse my idiosyncratic “Carolinian,” but I suspect that many readers, influenced by the common girl’s name, would incorrectly read “Caroline” as “Caro-line” rather than “Caro-lean,” masking the adjectival usage. Incidentally, in the case of Lewis Carroll, the generic “Carol” is doubly appropriate, since Lewis Carroll is the nom de plume of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who surely chose the surname “Carroll” knowing its connection to his own first name.

Had the Red Queen called her pet “Jabberwocky” and everyone else used “the Jabberwock,” I would have no objection. Since “the Jabberwocky” is used throughout — and since Christopher Lee is actually credited as “Jabberwocky” (and the same form is used in the production notes) — I see no reason to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt. (“Jabberwocky” as Carroll’s title I take to be an abstract form of the creature’s name, connoting something like “of Jabberwocks” or “in the realm / condition / spirit of the Jabberwock.”)

In fact, I believe Depp’s Hatter does not quote Carroll’s poem correctly; his partial reading incorrectly transposes lines.

I’m glad your family enjoyed the film.

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