SDCC: Tim Burton on his weird new vision for Alice

Alice in Wonderland seems as suited to Tim Burton's distinct vision as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Sleepy Hollow, and the quirky director told reporters that he's come up with a new vision for the classic material in a news conference today at Comic-Con in San Diego.

The images of the film's characters so far released confirmed the Burton aesthetic, albeit heightened by a blend of costume, animation and visual effects technology. Burton himself introduced a 3-D trailer of trippy, psychedelic images from the movie, which wowed the Hall H audience (and Disney host Patton Oswalt) so much, it was screened three times to wild cheers.

What Burton feels is a really new vision for the Lewis Carroll tale is a cohesive story. "The emotional connection came from the fact of seeing other movie versions of it that I never felt an emotional connection to," Burton said. "It was always a series with a girl wandering around form one crazy character to another. I never felt any emotional connection, so it was an attempt to give it some framework and emotional grounding that I felt never seen in any version before."
Don't worry, the Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, et al. will still be plenty crazy. "Every character is weird, but I tried to give them their own specific weirdness. I think all those characters and this imagery sort of indicates some type of mental weirdness that everybody goes through, but the real attempt was to try to make Alice feel more like a story as opposed to a series of events."

Don't worry, Burton's not just throwing Carroll out the window and doing his own version. He found consistent elements from Carroll's stories to tie Alice's encounters together. "A lot of it is based on this 'Jabberwocky' [poem] that's in one of the stories. That's not a big part of the story, but we're just using elements of all the books because that's just the nature. They don't follow a specific structure."

You could also interpret Alice's encounters as disparate elements of the same personality. "It's a fairly universal concept," Burton said. "These kind of stories whether The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland, it's an internal journey. These characters represent things inside the human psyche. I think that's what every child does. You try to work out problems as you go. As an adult, some people get therapy, some people get to make movies there are different ways of getting this worked out."

Disney will release Alice in Wonderland in 2010.

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