Wander through Wonderland at ACMI

By LUCINDA McDONALD,
arts editor

Alice in Wonderland, 1952 Walt Disney poster. Picture: Lucinda McDonald

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) has turned itself into a Wonderland for its Melbourne Winter Masterpieces to showcase the many film representations of Lewis Carroll’s fictional world.

After descending the stairs into the exhibition, or down the rabbit hole if you will, you are greeted by an ACMI worker who gives you your map to Wonderland.

This is not just a map, however, but an interactive element to the exhibition, where visitors are assigned a character – perhaps the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, or the Cheshire Cat – and invited to scan their map at different points in the exhibition for something a little extra.

After receiving your character, you are granted entry into wonderland … but wait, which door do you go through? Do you get on your hands and knees and crawl through the one on the left? Or simply walk through the larger door on your right? That is up to you.

Through the first doors, three more doors, and then through even more. The Hallway of Doors is a seemingly infinite hallway with infinite doorways, thanks to the use of infinity mirrors at either end of the room. Every which way you look there is a door opening and closing as eager visitors explore.

The Hallway of Doors. Picture: Lucinda McDonald

 

One door may lead you to pages from a first edition copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, another to the many illustrations straight from Carroll’s pages.

Another door goes to the other side of the one-way mirror, where a little kid knocks on the glass calling to his mum on the other side, all unknown to her.

Another door – who remembers which one at this point? – allows you to  jump out of Carroll’s pages into the stage, big screen and little screen depictions of Alice that audiences across the world have enjoyed since Carroll created her in 1865.

From low budget to a Tim Burton extravaganza, guests can follow a chronology of new cinematic technologies as they developed and were used to bring Alice to life.

 

The Mad Hatter’s tea party immersive experience. Picture: Lucinda McDonald

 

From live to live action, puppets to people, claymation to animation to anime, the world of Wonderland seems to have been expressed through every imaginable medium, and now it is all showcased in an equally imaginative exhibition.

Guests can feel as though they have grown from eating some cake or shrunk from a potion as they look at small and large props from the films, or play in the Queen’s croquet ground, or sitting for tea at the Mad Hatter’s table, all are exciting interactive elements of the exhibition.

Wonderland truly is an adventure not to be missed by anyone, from young to old, lovers of the book or simply lovers of a well-curated exhibition. Be sure to follow your curiosity to the exhibition and through all the doors it has to offer.

Wonderland at ACMI is showing until October 7.