Friday, April 25, 2014

Poetry in the Movies Blogathon

So, Dell on Movies is hosting his first ever blogathon, and it is inspired by National Poetry Month.  Yes, this is a poetry based blogathon, and as a longtime lover of poetry, it was something I really wanted to partake in.  My only wish is that I heard about this before, you know, YESTERDAY!  Wendell, you are now on my blog-roll.  I won’t miss another one of these!

So, sadly, this may feel a tad rushed because of the fact that I have pretty much today to put this together (I don’t blog on the weekends and the blogathon ends on Sunday) but I encourage anyone seeing this that has the time to put a post up to do so!  Now, Two Dollar Cinema set this bar really, really high with his…um…poem, but I’m not even going to attempt that.

I really wanted to, but…no.

Here are the rules:

1. Post a review of a movie that either has a poet as a major character, is inspired by/based on a poem, or uses poetry as an important part of the film. - If the protagonist is a poet, at least make mention of that fact and some of his/her notable work. - If the movie uses poetry in its narrative, include in your review whether or not it is effective within the film's structure. 2. Use one of the banners here and a link back to this post. 3. Post a comment below with a link to your review.

So my initial thought was to write about Bright Star.  I love that movie, but I also recently dedicated my Valentine’s Day post to it, so I didn’t really want to rehash that.  Then it actually came to finding another film that I felt passionate enough to write about, and could write about in such a short time.  Then it kind of all came to me.  While the film itself is based on a children’s book and not a poem, the most remarkably memorable aspect of this film is wrapped up in a single scene that revolves around the telling of a poem that was written for the book.  The book is Alice in Wonderland, and the poem is The Walrus and the Carpenter

Now, I have to say that this was not intentional, but one of the real things that has always got me about this particular scene was the way that it raised concerns and warnings about religion but at a level that would never outright offend or preach.  Religion in children’s films is not uncommon.  I mean, you can’t tell me that The Neverending Story is not a film about the war between God and Satan, and The Little Prince was pretty much an entire allegory of the Bible and its influence of childhood.

Still, there is something about The Walrus and the Carpenter that feels particularly damning.

Now, this isn’t a condemnation on religion as a whole, but more a look at how con artists can (and do) use religion as a tool to get what they want out of people (cults?).  The persuasion, the lies, the light at the end of the tunnel that turns out to be death…  Now, I personally look at this as an allegory of corruption within spirituality, and it feels like Lewis Carroll’s words strike a chord with many.  While I am a very religious man, raised Christian, and have a strong faith, even I have seen the sad effects of such corruption within religion, and the Bible itself speaks of apostasy in the church (Hebrews 3: 12-14) and for me this poem exposes the ease with which this deception can overtake someone.

Now, the film itself is actually a really inspired one, and one that I feel works better in Disney’s hands overall than it did in Carroll’s.  While I admired Alice in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass) it all felt so scattered on the printed page.  There is something maniacally focused about Disney’s animated adaptation, taking the absurdity about the whole experience and giving it a fluidity that I didn’t expect, given the source.  The jumbled themes feel more in place in the wildly illustrious world of Disney, and those colorful dreamlike visions make the fractured storytelling feel surprisingly rooted.

So, this is my take.  I don’t know why I seem to be talking about religion so much these days.  It really wasn’t intentional, but when it fits, it fits!


  1. It's been a long, long time since I've seen this. I didn't even remember that part of the movie. Very nice breakdown of the poem while tying it into your own life, too. Thanks for participating!

  2. LOL, I've seen this movie SO MANY TIMES because of the kids. I zone it out a lot, but this scene is one that always mesmerizes me.

  3. Great post! I love the approach you took with this blogathon. I haven't seen Alice in Wonderland in years, so I should probably rewatch it some time.

    1. I wish I had had more time to think it through. I felt so rushed, but I really wanted to get something together for it. I'm glad it worked out!