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Creating Underland
"As cool as ‘Alice' is, it needed to be reinvented. Tim's created a whole new world for Alice to live in. The tone is a little more grown up. There isn't a little girl in a blue and white dress.” - Jennifer Todd, Producer

For a filmmaker famous for creating fantastical and breathtaking onscreen worlds, Lewis Carroll's rich tapestry of characters and their magical realm afforded Burton ample opportunity to let his imagination run wild.

"What's amazing about Carroll's books is that his imagery is so strong,” says Mia Wasikowka, who stars as Alice. "That's why it's so exciting Tim is doing it, because he's such a visual person.”

"Everybody's got an image of Underland,” says Burton. "I think in people's minds, it's always a very bright, cartoony place. We thought if Alice had had this adventure as a little girl and now she's going back, perhaps it's been a little bit depressed since she's left. It's got a slightly haunted quality to it.”

"This world is so enchanting and fun and a bit odd,” says producer Richard Zanuck of Burton's Underland. "And, of course, the look of it is incredible—you almost have to see it twice to catch the details. That kind of exotic vision can only come out of Tim's brain. Visually, it's stunning.”

To create his vision of Underland, filmmakers first returned to the source material— Carroll's books. "We gathered all the artwork from all of the various artists who'd drawn ‘Alice in Wonderland' and put it up on the wall, to get a mood, a flavor going,” recalls production designer Rob Stromberg. "Then we started talking about how we could keep it true to the book, but take it to a place that hadn't been seen before.”

"The illustrations for the original printing of the book became a pretty decent roadmap for us,” adds art director Todd Cherniawsky. "Those became our imprint for Alice's flashbacks in the movie, whereas what ends up happening in Underland is definitely a more Burtonesque version.”

Burton's Underland is in decline, drained of color and vitality under the oppressive rule of the Red Queen, but, say filmmakers, that's not where they began. "Early on, Underland was being explored as a very colorful place,” says Cherniawsky. "But the more those initial designs evolved, Tim's reaction was, ‘This is visually really nice, but it's a better place to end up in.' So we had a bit of an aesthetic shift to ground it into Tim's world, and it became a tale, to a certain extent, of oppression and suppression.”

The key to Underland's haunted look was a photograph taken during World War II of a British family having tea outside their estate. "In the background you could see the skyline of London, quite dishevelled,” Cherniawsky says. "That started to fuel the arc of Underland starting out as a very suppressed, gloomy world with a crushed palette. Then, as the film unfolds and things become more positive, we had a place to go to with the sunlight and with the color.”

"The thing about Underland, like any fairy-tale land, there's good and the bad,” Burton says. "The thing I liked about Underland is that everything is slightly off, even the good people. That to me is something different.”

Using a mixture of visual effects techniques, including actors shot against green screen, all CGI characters, as well as 3D, "ALICE IN WONDERLAND” promises to showcase Burton's vision in a unique, richly detailed way.

Ken Ralston, senior visual effects supervisor on the film, says it was a challenge deciding how to tackle the director's vision. Ultimately, says Ralston, they decided to "blend a lot of different types of techniques into something that would give us a very unique look for the movie. And it was really based on what it should be based on—what the environments needed to be to best tell the story, what the<

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