In the middle of her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into animals; and a bathhouse for these creatures.
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
[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."
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Most films age over time. In 20 years will Titanic still be as amazing as it was in 1998? Will Jurassic Park still have people gawping open mouthed at the cinema screen? I think not. Its a rarity, but sometimes, just sometimes, there comes a movie that is timeless, magical and eternal, one such film is Alice in Wonderland.
It seems to me, when watching most Disney films, that Walt Disney had an evil masterplan to mess with the minds of children, young and old. Dumbo is a film about an outsider, Pinocchio is a film about a freak child who cannot stop lying. Walt only made these films family viewing through constantly having a moral ending. Dumbo can fly and Pinocchio is rewarded for risking his life to save another, however, these moral endings do not disguise the fact that, at times, Disney films were quite peculiar.
Alice in Wonderland on the surface is a dreamlike fantasy about a child nodding off and visiting a wonderful wonderland where flowers sing, caterpillars smoke and rabbits talk. However, similarly to Blue Velvet, this film is not about the surface values, its is about the dark, seedy undertones that exist beneath the aesthetic surface.
Below its surface lies a wealth of wholly unlikeable and unhelpful creatures. Aside from the King (Hooray) of Hearts, each character only serves to hinder Alice in her attempts to come to terms with her warped dream. The Cheshire Cat is responsible for putting Alice in court, the White Rabbit wants to have Alice destroyed when he finds her at his home, the flowers shun Alice when they incorrectly perceive her to be a common garden weed, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare also shun Alice for no reason whatsoever, this list is as long as the tunnel that leads Alice into her Wonderland.
To look back at the film nowadays, one could surmount that the ending is nothing more than a cop-out (these thoughts were true for Lynch's Boxing Helena). She dreamt it all along is nothing more than saying, here, we'll give you licence to create a magical world, no boundaries because it all exists inside a young girls mind.
I'll admit this review might seem overly critical of the film, but it is for these warped reasons and the context of what the film represents or least what it should represent that I absolutely adore it. Walt Disney might have had a masterplan to screw with the minds of his children, but I say, good luck to him. A subtle undertone to the magical shell of the movie shows that the yolk is in fact sour. I daren't but will compare this movie to Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder, another film about a false surface level and the warped undertones of life and death.
Sleep is only a state of mind, it's what happens in this state of mind that really matters. Or at least, what mattered to Walt.
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