My Disney education is sorely lacking.
I have worn my cultural dearth as a badge of pride for years. It’s good fun to watch people screw up their face, incredulous, as I tell them I have not seen the Lion King. Or Alice in Wonderland. Or Mary Poppins. Even Grease alluded me as a child.
I like to say I was outside playing. Eating worms, is the more likely story. Or building dams in the gutter with my brothers.
Sitting inside with the telly on just didn’t cut it when there was exploring to be done. I like to think that’s the reason. It’s not because we were too busy watching obscure documentaries and the ABC News at 7. Surely not.
What surprises me is how impervious these cult films are in our culture. For example, I was introduced to Star Wars last year. For 23 years I went without seeing those epics. Then, I was convinced to trudge through the entire six episodes. It is six, right? And I enjoyed the films immensely. But I knew half of the characters before the DVD had started playing.
I was petrified of Darth Vader during my childhood, without ever being confronted by him. As an adult he was still truly terrifying.
Luke Skywalker; he was like an old family friend who moved to Romania.
May the force be with you; I’d been saying that for years, like some fool blindly guessing what the context was.
Alice in Wonderland has caused quite the stir, too. Today, after a blissful morning at the markets, Shorn Lowry, his hot girlfriend, and I were taking a rather long stroll home. So long, in fact, we had to stop at a boutique brewhouse to quench our thirsts.
Over a pale ale and a dark lager my cultural ineptidue, and Alice, dogged me again.
“How could it have happened,” Shorn and the hot girlfriend wonder, about me missing Alice jump down the rabbit hole.
“I was playing outside,” I smugly reply.
Shorn is not having a bar of it. “We’re going to watch it this afternoon,” he says. “You just have to.”
But then, we all wonder whether the film will have the same impact on me as an adult as it did on all my peers who got in on the action as kids. Will I enjoy the Alice adventure? Or have they romanticised these fairytales amongst memories of their own awesome childhoods?
We decide on the Johnny Depp version – for obvious reasons.
Once again I note how many of the themes in the movies I already know well; the White Princess; the Hatter; a few spoonfuls of Wishful Thinking; the rabbit hole; and, of course, Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
But then there are some delightful moments of genius that blow me away. I won’t spoil it for anyone else who is yet to broaden their sphere to include the delightful children’s movie. Actually, I wouldn’t want to be showing that film to the young-uns at all, it is bloody scary in parts.
I will say this, however, Alice in Wonderland is as much for children as adults. The film’s beauty is tied to the edifying themes which are relevant regardless of age. What a delight for me to just be finding the story now. And, best of all, I’m so behind the times that there’s plenty more goodness where this came from.
It’s never to late to jump down the rabbit hole.