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Saw Alice tonight.

First, one (relatively minor, but important) thing is that the most interesting parts were understated, not like most movies now where it’s “here’s where you think this, here’s where you feel that, and here’s the Strong Female Character (see? TITS!)” There was just enough to evoke emotion but it wasn’t like a political cartoon with labels plastered over everything.

But what really stands out is that the most powerful characters in Wonderland, Alice and the two queens, are female, and the (female) dormouse is tiny but bold. They are feminine and dressed as such, with tiny waists for the queens as was the fashion, but not displaying cleavage.

Unfortunately, the lack of cleavage does kind of stand out after a while (even to my unobservant eyes). But that’s only because, elsewhere, almost every Strong Female Character is marked with boobies thrown in your face every time they turn around. So the absence is noticeable, but not through any fault of this movie.

I can’t remember any other movie that had strong female characters where you didn’t get blinded by cleavage every other minute, or where they didn’t make a huge deal out of the character being female, or where the Strong Female Character (of which there apparently can be only one per flick) didn’t fall in love and suddenly become weak and/or unimportant to the story and/or suddenly need saving from her lover, making him the Strong Character instead. Or just plain didn’t fall in love, and ended the movie happy anyway. When was the last time you saw a female main character that was happy without love? And didn’t even mention it, because she had other things going on that were more important? like…the struggle of good vs evil, life vs death?

I don’t mean to harp on this, but it’s just so damn rare, and it was really well done in Alice. The movie didn’t have to point out how well it was portraying women, patting itself on the back every five minutes, or show that she was female by having her have to shut off her emotions in order to be strong, or what-have-you. It’s so nice to see a woman for once: a strong, responsible, self-reliant adult who faces her problems (even if she sometimes needs time to think first) instead of hiding from herself or her situation or ducking under the cover of the first attractive man who comes along.

But what I liked the best is how pretty much every character is strong — there’s no role reversal where the men have to be weak because the women are strong; there are strong male characters as well. I like movies where the characters take initiative and fix their own problems. Seems like pretty much every movie now has The Character(s) That Get(s) Saved and The Character(s) That Save(s). Strong ones and weak ones. Either you’re the master of everyone’s destiny, or you aren’t even the master of your own. Not so in Alice. There are circumstances beyond your control, but by making friends (who may or may not be able to vanish at will) and taking opportunities presented to you, you are pretty much the master of your own life within whatever situation surrounds you. You choose what you do; you choose to save yourself.

Also, Stephen Fry and the animators did a great job with the Cheshire Cat. Definitely my favorite character, both in voice and mannerisms. “Goodbye…hat.”

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