The magnificent Sir Ian Holm on set for Lord of the Rings.
Obviously Sir Ian Holm’s is amazing. Apart from the fact that he’s a Sir (ie: Knighted) and was in Lord of the Rings as Bilbo Bagins, he is actually an amazing actor and I believe Dreamchild proves this. Apart from Jim Henson’s creatures/puppets (which I’ll get to) Sir Ian Holm was the best bit of the film. To me the film seemed to try and portray Doddgerson/Caroll slightly as pedophiliac. They seemed to skirt around it, but it felt like it was one of the underlying things going on in the film. Even if you run with that idea Sir Holm made me feel sympathy for him. Here’s a guy who is shy/reclusive, stutters a quite a bit around most people, and is made fun of by colleagues and acquaintances and even Alice at times. He really is this sort of pathetic character but apart from being a bit reclusive and shy doesn’t seem to deserve any ill feelings. And of all the people he seems to connect to is Alice and her sisters, which I don’t get why Alice. Personally I despise Alice with a passion. For some reason I can’t bring myself to really feel sorry for her. She’s just a bitch, especially in this movie. However that’s a topic for another time. Back to Holm’s acting. He doesn’t stutter when talk to them (except at the end) and acts quite different. Heres an aged man who seems only to be able to relate/associate with children. Even if he does have sexual feelings for Alice he seems to repress them mostly throughout the film or at least appears to be trying very hard to hold them back. The film easily could have portrayed him in a much less favorable way and I believe part of it has to do with Holms acting. He really stole the picture.
And now to those damned puppets. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop made amazing puppets and here’s proof.
The illustration and the final outcome. Personally the illustrations seemed a bit dark. Defiantly not something I’d put in a children’s book, but that’s just me. That being said the puppets turned out wonderfully and were the tied with Sir Holms as the best thing in the film. Apart from the fact that they were a bit gruesome looking they actually had quite an important role in the film. They reenacted some bits from the book, but added to it by counseling the older Alice in the same manner they did when she was younger. The difference here I felt was that their appearance played perfectly into their acting. They were menacing. The one spot where the Hatter just lurches forward and goes nose to nose with Alice telling her that she’s a dumb old hag was wonderful. They also use an upward shot to make the puppets look even larger and more menacing/powerful which was a lovely add-on.
Incidentally I have not seen TIm Burton’s film, though I intended to if for no other reason than for me to listen to Alan Rickman’s sexy voice as the Caterpillar. On that note however I felt like Mr. Burton would have enjoyed Henson’s design for the puppets as they seemed to fit his darker style in his films, though lacking in the extra flair Burton gives everything.
PS: Leonard MAltin gave this film Two and a Half Men Stars out of Four. The only praise he gave was to Coral Browne (Old Alice), Henson’s, Puppets, and the “fascinating material”. I have to agree with his dislike for the odd set for New York and the Lucy/Peter Gallagher’s character’s romance sub plot.