Who is this funny little creature, you may ask? Why it’s the hookah-smoking caterpillar, of course!
As the release of Tim Burton’s long-anticipated Alice in Wonderland adaptation edges closer and closer to go-time (it opens in Australia March 4) expect to see more and more marketing tidbits pop up hither and thither on this ‘ere internet. The film’s viral and social networking campaigns swung into gear in the second half of 2009, drip-feeding morsels of promotional material to the film’s anxious fanbase. This lil blue fella has his own Facebook page, The Loyal Followers of the Caterpillar, and after revealing two new stills in December (including the one above) has apparently gotten a little miffed at his readers. On December 27 his status update read “My, My. Since some people think im fake, Im going to let Mr Hatter do ALL the updates. No more updates or exclusives from me.”
It’s all marketing baloney, of course, but the character design looks rather wonderful and vocal duties will be dispatched by Alan Rickman, whose inimitable elocution makes this piece of casting cause for considerable cheer. Movies featuring iconic characters are especially compatible with social networking sites, as publicists can easily divvy campaigns into character-based portions as a way of distributing publicity material (i.e. stills, posters, videos, profiles, trivia etc) and generating interactivity (on Facebook the caterpillar announced he would only reveal his exclusives when fifty people clicked “like”).
Introduced in Chapter IV of Lewis Carroll’s classic hallucinogenic tale, the hookah-smoking caterpillar sits on top of a mushroom and is exactly three inches high, which, according to him, “is a very good height indeed.” He is known (at least by Alice) for his brevity: he speaks in short sharp sentences such as “who are you?” and “explain yourself!” But he also provides useful instructions – as he slinks off into the grass, he explains to Alice that one side of the mushroom makes her shorter and the other side makes her larger.
For your enjoyment, here are some other depictions of the hookah-smoking caterpillar that have popped up over the years (click to enlarge).