TIM BURTON’S JABBERWOCKY
Realm: Checkered Battlefield, Underland
Featured In: Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Voiced By: Sir Christopher Lee
While I can’t claim that Tim Burton’s “sequel” to the classic story, I can say that his version of the Jabberwock, or Jabberwocky as it is called in film, is one of the best ones I’ve ever seen despite how over the top it is. Stepping back from the Jabberwocky for a moment… I must first say that while I did enjoy the film for what it is, I can’t say that it is at all true to the original story, taking far too many liberties to the point where even the very name of this supposedly fantastical realm is changed.
While I can sympathize with the need of giving characters like the Mad Hatter or the White Rabbit actual names rather than far too fitting titles, why in the name of literature, did anyone okay chaning Wonderland into Underland? I know that the first book was originally titled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, but really? That’s just ridiculously silly.
As to the this version of the Jabebrwocky, it is a monster of the highest caliber that can only be met on equal grounds by whoever bears the Vorpal Sword in hand and even then, victory is far from assured. Though never explained in-film, or outside of it in other connecting media, the Jabberwocky had struck a bargain with the Red Queen, otherwise known as the Queen of Hearts and younger sibling to the White Queen, to be her champion. While the details aren’t spoken of, one can assume that it involved her also accepting the Bandersnatch and the Jubjub Bird into her employ as her chief enforcers following the one and only time the Jabberwocky attacked prior to the final battle with the White Queen and her champion, Alice.
Some years ago, long before Alice’s own trip down the rabbit hole, the Red Queen led a coup against her elder sister and stole for herself the Crown of Underland and the Vorpal Sword, letting the Jabberwocky run loose on what was to be a day of celebration. The Jabberwocky swooped in and destroyed the White Knight in a single blast and proceeded to utterly decimate the Hatter clan until only one was left, he who would eventually grow to become the Mad Hatter. The Jabberwocky then entered a state of hibernation for the remaining years until the “Frabjous Day,” the day of prophecy where he and Alice would meet on the battlefield and where he would ultimately be slain by her.
The Jabberwocky in the film is a creature as old as time and one that is quite possibly immortal in some sense that it has something akin to a phoenix-like resurrection. There is no doubt that the Vorpal Sword can slay the Jabberwocky, as the Red Queen herself had it guarded by the Bandersnatch and under lock and key, and there is the Jabberwocky’s few lines in regard to the sword. He says, and I quote, “So my old foe, we meet on the battlefield once again.” When Alice states that they’ve never met, he barks at her that she is insignificant and that he spokes of his ancient enemy, the “Vorpal One.”
There’s also the Jabberwocky’s own blood that the White Queen knows is capable of sending one from aboveground out of Underland to the moment that they had left rather than the days that had gone by during their stay. Considering she’s an alchemist of a decidedly odd order and one who is supposedly pacifistic to a fanatical degree, the only way she could possibly know this is if the Jabberwocky had been slain before as I sincerely doubt he would donate even a single drop of blood.
As far as designs go, he is by far the only one that closely resembles the original illustration though his arms are shrunken down. They fix this via giving him hands on his wings and making them act as his forelimbs, a rather interesting design in hindsight. Yet, there are two things about the Jabberwocky that make him a rather deadly dragon, even compared to those I’ve already reviewed.
When he is first called upon by the Red Queen to battle Alice, he is seen hibernating not far from the Checkered Battlefield with a thick, black fog seeping out of him from where he sleeps. Considering the severe lack of life and how ash continues to fall from him even when he’s up and moving, the Jabberwocky might have some manner of anti-life effect simply from existing.
The other aspect of the Jabberwocky is his breath attack that is some manner of lightning. I say some manner because I’ve yet to see lightning that is such a viscous shade of purple and capable of vaporizing an armored knight in a single blast. Actually, I should amend that somewhat. Vaporize and cause to explode violently all in the same instant.
Overall, this is the Jabberwocky that I feel stays true to the original concept as far as design and power, but is almost too much not for his role as a monster of prophecy but for his voice actor. Seriously, Sir Christopher Lee owned that dragon’s voice, almost as much as Sir Sean Connery does for Draco, but if he had any more than two sentences worth of lines I’d frankly forget what the rest of the characters had to say. Heck, out of the entirety of the movie, it is the Jabberwocky’s sole lines that I remember most above all others that weren’t taken straight from the book.