Sunday, June 13, 2010

Disneyfied Jabberwock, Times Two

In posting that little nothing about that one nightmare-inducing movie version of Alice in Wonderland, I prompted a someone else to write a post on the Jabberwock, that nonsensical but nonetheless terrifying Lewis Carroll boogeymonster. It seems that that most familiar of Alice adaptations — the 1951 cartoon version — at one point was going to include the Jabberwock. It didn’t make the final cute, so we are left to wonder how this beast might have been rendered by Disney.

Two pieces of concept art survive. The first comes from the “Disney archives” and shows how the battle between the Carroll poem’s young hero and the Jabberwock might have looked, while the second shows the Jabberwock as he appeared in a “Little Golden Book” titled Alice in Wonderland Meets the White Rabbit.

Neither is especially scary, but should we have expected a true monster from Disney? I say yes, actually — the Disney Alice came out before its take on Sleeping Beauty, and the Maleficent dragon in that latter movie is pretty damn intimidating. Of course, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is a bit more mature of a film than Alice so maybe the eight years between the two films allowed the studio to summon the guts to create a truly evil villain — or at least to remember those guts, as Disney had in 1940 put out Fantasia, which pitted young viewers against the demonic Chernobog in that last segment, “A Night on Bald Mountain.”

1 comment:

  1. Visa - vis the second picture, when I was five, I had the storybook with it inside. It was actually a French version, one of several Disney read-along cassette storybooks that my parents got me to help me learn French. I found the Jabberwock quite scary on account of his flaming red eyes. This effect was compounded by the recording, where the narrator relates: "Elle rencontra un chat de Chester, qui disparaissait et reaparaissait instantanement. Et une etrange creature - Jabberwock, dont les yeux luaient come des flammes dans la nuit." (followed by an eerie chime melody). In translation: "She met a Chester (sic) Cat who disappeared and reappeared instantly. And a strange creature - Jabberwock, whose eyes shone like flames in the night. Now it looks funny, but I was spooked by the picture, but also fascinated. I ended up imagining Jabberwocks everywhere. Red lights such as those on top of tall buildings turned into Jabberwocks in my mind. Most were dangerous monsters to beware of, but I think my father helped develop a story whereby some of them were good Jabberwocks who guarded the city in the night. When I saw the Disney movie about a year after getting the book, I was disappointed that there was no Jabberwock in it. My original copy of the book was discarded but I got another on Ebay some years ago.