It might be fitting to follow Fish and fools by alluding to Mad Hatters, March Hares and therefore Alice. She is, after all, bound to return from time to time, if  time exists and allows, and at such timeless, infinite occasions she should naturally be treated with all the respect she deserves.

Tim Burton's thoughtful and poetic rendering does exactly that. This interpretation fully honours Lewis Carroll's conceptions and endearing idea of first immortalising Alice in a Wonderland where time stands still, and then (in his sequel) of freeing her (and time) by allowing her to assert herself, grow up and leave innocent youth behind.

Burton therefore joins the main themes of 'Alice in Wonderland' with 'Alice through the Looking-Glass', incorporating the 'Bandersnatch' and the 'Jabberwocky'  as extreme challenges- especially the latter- that Alice must come to terms with to become herself, a liberated, young woman in the oppressive, pursed-lip, Victorian society.

Johnny Depp as a poetic Mad Hatter is superb. The feeling throughout the film is definitely Carrollian-  reinforced by a fabulous Tweedledum and Tweedledee pair, and an excellent Queen of Hearts.

We don't miss the henpecked King of Hearts. We don't miss the Duchess. The film concentrates more on the challenge between the White Queen and her tyrannical sister, the red Queen- (on the chess board of Through the Looking-Glass). We don't  miss the Mock-Turtle or the Gryphon- (of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) which also seems to show how complete the film is in itself.

Time then is gradually allowed to start ticking, when Alice, magnificently clad in armour, has to eventually take on the Jabberwocky to free Wonderland, herself and to dethrone and ban the Queen of Hearts in favour of the more worthy, virtuous and beautiful White Queen.

Alice then returns to reality to face the society of the epoch as the newly, liberated young woman she has become.

A subtle and moving, final touch, also to emphasise that time has re-become a 'reality'. Just before Alice leaves Wonderland, the blue Caterpillar ('Absolem') transforms himself into a crystalis.
Having returned and about to depart aboard a ship on a 'real adventure' (after convincing her late father's business partner that she is also perfectly capable of working with him) Alice, on the ship's deck, sees and naturally recognises a beautiful, blue butterfly who flies round her, perches momentarily on her shoulder and then flutters off, as if to wish her peace and farewell ('Absolem').

All this may read like a review. Be as it may. But it comes from yet another visual interpreter of the classic, therefore it might have more significance. It's also written as a homage by a proud father who has had the great pleasure of seeing his immortalised  'Alice' free herself in a similar, fatidic way, and also grow up to become a beautiful queen.


 Text and  images © Mirino (PW) April, 2010

Fish and fools

There are three main theories about the origin of April Fool's day, the first of April, and in our troubled times there may be some comfort in the thought that the tradition is almost international. Some theorists claim that it first originated in Persia (the Sizdah Bedar tradition) which could be the most ancient tradition related to practical jokes in the world today, for it dates back as early as 536 BC.

Another theory is that it originates from the time of Noah. It was alleged that he foolishly sent off his doves too soon instead of waiting for the water to give way sufficiently to land. One hestitates to suggest where, but this was said to have taken place on the first of the Hebrew month corresponding with April.

The third legend dates from 1564 when King Charles IX of France was supposed to have changed the national calendar to start on the 1st of January instead of the 1st of April (l'Edit de Roussillon). Those who continued to celebrate the 1st of April as New Years day, or refused to adapt to the change were treated as fools. Paper fish would be stuck to their backs before they were scaled, gutted and decapitated, as 'les poissons d'Avril' (April fish) victims, the French equivalent of April fools.

But why fish? Maybe there's a vague connection with the first, Christian symbol and secret code of 'Ichthus,' (ancient Greek- fish). Or could it have something to do with the sidereal, zodiac sign of Pisces, (Latin- fish) the first of April falling more or less half way through this particular astrological period?

Naturally the world isn't devoid of fish, or fools ('gowks' or cuckoos as the Scottish call them) in any month of the year. This has to include Persia of course. And there are all sorts of fish, schools of which are sometimes 'harangued' or tyrannised by groupers and radical sharks that seem to claim the monopoly of Cod, and without which (certainly for all species of Ichthus) the world would be a safer plaice.

There's no trout that a very close acquaintance of mine was an April fool's victim. Baited, hooked and gaffed on that same, fateful day. But as he keeps persuading himself that there's no such thing as haddock, that there's a bass for everything whatever one's halibut, and that carpe diem is always best for the sole, and other such pleasant philoshifical tunas, he is never overly turbot and always manages to remain reasonably salmon despite his rare herring problem.

(Years later he was offered an excellent bouillabaisse lunch at Cassis, near Marseilles. It was unforgettably good, in complete contrast to much of the above codswallop).

 Top April fool's day hoaxes of all time
Source- Wikipedia with thanks. Text and images © Mirino (PW) April, 2010