Director James Bobin Talks Infusion of History and Comedy in ALICE IN WONDERLAND 2; Says Film Has a “Slightly More Human World”

     March 12, 2014

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Director Tim Burton’s 2010 live-action adaptation of Alice in Wonderland was a massive success for Disney, kicking off a boom of 3D films and grossing over $1 billion at the worldwide box office.  It was never a question of if Disney would move forward with a sequel, but rather when the follow-up would come to fruition.  That time, apparently, is now, as last year the studio set The Muppets director to take the helm of Alice in Wonderland 2.  Stars Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp are poised to reprise their roles from the first pic, and the sequel has already been dated for a May 27, 2016 release.

While recently speaking with Bobin in anticipation of another Disney sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, Steve also took the opportunity to ask the filmmaker about the Alice in Wonderland follow-up, titled Through the Looking Glass.  While the director couldn’t go into specifics, he spoke of how his passion for history and love of Lewis Carroll’s comedy leanings made the job a perfect fit and discussed his visual approach to the film, adding that it takes place in a different part of Underland.  Read on after the jump.

james-bobin-alice-in-wonderland-2-sequelWhen asked what drew him to the project, Bobin talked about his strong love of history and appreciation for Carroll’s satirical leanings:

“The thing about me is that my secret passion is history.  My films have a lot of historical context; I’m a huge fan of ruins.  You see a lot of ruin work in my movies, I like ruins.  So the idea of doing a movie that is not only historical but also fantastical, like a fantasy world, I couldn’t pass it up.  It’s one of the things I really wanted to do, and I’m also a huge fan of Lewis Carroll.  In England he’s this incredibly influential, basically comedy writer.  Lewis Carroll is known as a fantasy guy, but if you read the book as an allegory of the world or satire on the world and how it worked in those days, you can trace like Lewis Carroll to Monty Python; they’re part of the same family to me.  And so it felt like something I would find interesting, and that’s all I ask of my work, that it’s interesting to me.  Because I do it, as you know, to a very deep level, and so you spend a lot of time doing this stuff, so you have to love the material.  And I love Lewis Carroll, so I’m really fascinated about doing it.”

Bobin also talked about how the sequel is visually a bit different from the first film.  While Robert Stromberg won an Oscar for his production design on Burton’s picture, he’s now busy working as a director, making his debut with Disney’s Maleficent this May.  Bobin has hired The Hobbit production designer Dan Hennah in his stead:

“I have hired Dan Hennah, who did The Hobbit, which was beautiful and Lake-Town particularly impressed me.  This one is a slightly different—it’s set in Underland but it’s in different parts of Underland, so it has a slightly more human world.  I can’t really talk about it very much, but I certainly knew that the work he showed in The Hobbit was so spectacularly good [so] he’d be perfect for this.”

alice-in-wonderlandThe director further elaborated on the visual approach to the pic, noting that he’s intent on creating a world in which the audience wants to spend a significant amount of time:

“The movie is not a real action movie.  The movie is a movie where you wanna create a world where you’re happy to spend two hours of your life.  You wanna be there and think, ‘What’s around that corner? I love being in this place.’  And that’s what it felt like in the first movie, I liked being in Underland and I love the idea that we’re gonna create that world again, a place where you’re happy to spend time.”

Finally, it’s pretty much a given that Alice in Wonderland 2 will be presented in the 3D format, and Bobin talked about how the film lends itself easily to three dimensions:

Alice is in a Victorian fantasy land, and nowhere suits 3D better than that.  There’s no limits to new ideas and what you can do, but also at the same time you have this great palette of Victoriana to use to create a fantastical world, and that to me is very fun because I did history at University, my wife is a historian, history’s my thing.  For me, it’s an opportunity to try and recreate the world I love from the past in this really interesting way.”

Look for Steve’s full interview with Bobin closer to the release of Muppets Most Wanted.  Disney will release Through the Looking Glass on May 27, 2016.

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