With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country.
On a golden afternoon, young Alice follows a White Rabbit, who disappears down a nearby rabbit hole. Quickly following him, she tumbles into the burrow - and enters the merry, topsy-turvy world of Wonderland! Memorable songs and whimsical escapades highlight Alice's journey, which culminates in a madcap encounter with the Queen of Hearts - and her army of playing cards! Written by
In the opening credits, the name of the first "Alice" book is given as "The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland" rather than "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". See more »
[reading from a history book]
"... leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the Earls of Mercia and Northumbria, declared for him: and even Stigand..." Alice.
[camera zooms out to show Alice sitting in a tree, playing with Dinah and making a chain of daisies]
Hmm? Oh, I'm listening.
"And even Stigand, the archbishop of Canterbury, agreed to meet with William and offer him the crown. William's conduct at first was moderate."
[...] See more »
Despite the hostile reviews from many other Disney fans, I like Alice in Wonderland. Maybe it's because I've never read the original Lewis Carrol novels, or because some people take novel translations too seriously. The only other Alice movie I saw was the one aired on NBC in 1999, which also has its share of defense and offense. I liked that one (only because it included a lot of what wasn't used here), but this Disney version has always been my favorite. But then again, many of the original crew who worked on this movie--even Walt Disney himself--hated this movie. I wonder why? Disney usually does a marvelous job of creating quality cartoons & movies. I can see some of what got people ticked off, but if the characters in Alice in Wonderland were so unlikeable (the major gripe of many viewers), how did Disney let it be so? Perhaps given the amount of time they put into making this film (about 10 years, excluding the WWII Era), the Disney artists could only do so much before wearily going with one thing, and seeing what happens.
This film is somewhat different from most Disney movies. Alice is the only true hero, two characters (Alice's sister and Dinah) barely make their mark in the story, and practically every character Alice meets in Wonderland are real psychos, whom by the end of the story, are all against her (a million to one). But just about all of the characters (even Alice herself) were having mood swings. A few of those whom Alice encountered were doing such things as to entertain her, while others were either doing things to persecute her, get her in trouble, or just tick her off. I can see (to an extent) why Alice was the unhappy camper on some levels, because she didn't get the wonderland as she had envisioned, but instead one big nitemare. The whole idea was for Alice to find a way to escape from the boring real-world, then decide between staying with her fantasies, or going back to reality. After all, there's always an equal but opposite reaction for every action.
There were numerous shots of Alice sedately giving attention to some of the characters' strange habits, rather than enjoying her trip, and others in where she was either mad or sad to be the main passive victim in the story. This all led up to a scene in where Alice begins her trek home, and leads a melancholy moment when she gets lost in the Tulgey Woods. Things didn't get much better for her when she met the Queen of Hearts...
All of the characters were individually twisted, but most were strangely funny. The Tweedle brothers' story of the Walrus and the Carpenter was pretty weird (as were the bros themselves), and the flowers seemed friendly at first, but when they realized that Alice wasn't a flower, they instantly turn on her (notice how the Rose didn't do much to help her). The caterpillar was smoking from a hookah (a popular drug reference during the 1970's), and got easily p***ed at anything Alice did to him (such as laughing at his expense when his arms or legs weren't in unison). The Mad Hatter and March Hare both had an unusual way of hosting a tea party (the part where they destroy the White Rabbit's watch was really funny).
The Cheshire Cat seemed to be a nuisance the first time, then a brief friend, and later became a troublemaker. The Queen of Hearts was big, fat, ugly, and screamed at almost anything out of line (That must have really put a strain on Verna Felton's voice!), while the King of Hearts was small, meek, and practically powerless (the polar opposite). There was also a ton of other strange characters taking unexplained hostility towards Alice, but I found most of those incidents to be the main vein of humor in this film. While many of these characters were unfriendly for the bulk of the film, nothing came to be as scary as did a couple scenes from Pinocchio. But based from this lengthy paragraph, this overload on story structure is probably another reason (along with the twisted character developments) as to why Alice in Wonderland came to be hated by critics, movie-goers, and the Disney crew upon its first release.
Two of the more positive things about Alice in Wonderland are the artwork and the music. The background arts are pretty stylish (thanks to Mary Blair), and many designs I didn't catch until just recently seeing the movie again.
The character designs and animation are also beautiful. The designs on Alice (the lone protagonist) were an overall visual standout (thanks to the then-teenage Kathryn Beaumont), and the designs of most of the Wonderland characters were great, too. I also liked the animation of the cards heralding the Queen's arrival (excellent choreography & colors). Most of the songs were wonderful, particularly "In a Golden Afternoon". These are the two elements that kept some Disney fans' attention to a strange movie, even to this day.
Overall, Alice in Wonderland is a good movie, and I can see some of why a lot of people hate it. I just wish that there was more to the "real-world" frames to the story, as in the time Alice was with her big sister and Dinah. The opening scenes could've used more impact on the main idea, while the closing scenes shouldn't have been so abrupt. During her trip, Alice made several references to Dinah, although the cat's barely visible role was being Alice's best friend. The beginning of Alice's nitemare (when she was chasing the White Rabbit) doesn't get much of a response, but the interesting parts begin once she meets the Doorknob. The ending (when the Queen of Hearts calls Alice to be killed, while every Wonderland character she met turned against her) was what reminded those who hated this movie that it was all a bad dream. More thankfully for everyone, the movie had a happy ending (as per usual for any Disney movie). But as I was saying earlier, there was a lot of what most people hated that I thought was funny, but I too felt that the story need a little more polishing. While I'm against the recent round of sequels Disney has been making, I'm a little curious of what they have planned for Alice in Wonderland. But as Alice said in the movie: "Curiosity often leads to trouble."
Many kids have grown up on this Disney version of Alice in Wonderland (like most other Disney movies), and it'll still be that way for years to come. Again, despite the hatred this movie has gotten for more than 50 years, I still like it.
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