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For a lot of people on this site, this is either one of thew best Disney movies or one of the worst. There is about 40 animated Disney movies and my personal favourite will always be the mad world of Wonderland. I don't actually know why but to me this is what i always thought about as a child, a mad world where simply nothing made sense. It goes like dynamite at only seventy two minutes and in that they have an array of entertaining characters and fourteen entertaining songs. To me it is the genius of Disney creating an entertaining look at a child's world. I think it is because of the Jungle Book that this is not as popular as some of the Disney Classics but you can't help but smile when you watch the Queen of hearts and the Mad Hatter being their own creative self's in the wonder of this amazingly clever gem
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
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?
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
only do so much before wearily going with one thing, and seeing what
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.
...and certainly "Pinocchio" had a more popular and memorable song score, but for my money I'd pick "Alice In Wonderland" as one of Walt Disney's top achievements in animation. From Lewis Carroll's story, and filled with knock-out colors (pinks and blues and reds on inky blacks), this episodic tale would not have worked so well if the direction hadn't been so graceful, setting a light, jovial mood, and the songs so tongue-trippingly clever. Alice herself (voiced by Kathryn Beaumont) is lovely and funny, the supporting characters appropriately manic, and the quiet moments gently even out the craziness (as with the Tulgey Wood/"Very Good Advice" sequence). Disney certainly runs hot ("Pinocchio", "Bambi") and cold ("The Sword and the Stone"), but this fantastic journey into nonsense, from a practically-unfilmable book, is endlessly interesting from a visual standpoint. ***1/2 from ****
I was a little worried when I went to watch the film version of Alice In
Wonderland, because I just read the novel and Disney has a tendency to dumb
down the material that they make into their films with goofball romantic
nonsense and cutesy talking animals. While I did get more than the
traditional share of talking animals with this film (as well as a variety of
other inanimate objects), the film stayed more faithful to the original
story than is generally expected from a Disney film. On the other hand, this
WAS made in 1951, which makes me wonder what a more modern adaptation would
I read Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass for English 180 (Children's Literature) at the University of California, Davis, so needless to say, I read it with more of a literary appreciation than is generally applied to children's books. I was pleased to see so many of the characters from the second novel in this version of Alice In Wonderland (such as the Cheshire Cat, the talking flowers in the garden, and Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum), although I must admit that I was slightly disappointed to see that Through The Looking Glass has been assimilated into this version of Alice In Wonderland rather than adapted into its own film, which I think is an honor that it certainly deserves.
As far as being a full length feature (although rather short at roughly 75 minutes), however, I think that this movie does justice to both stories, converting them into a single story rather smoothly, and only leaving out things that will only really be missed by people who know the novels enough to be disappointed that certain things were not included. I, for example, would have loved to see the whole chess story in Through The Looking Glass included in the film (there certainly was time for it), where Alice travels through Wonderland on her quest to become a Queen herself, but I am more than happy with how this film turned out.
One of the only things that I noticed about this film that did not match up to the quality of the novels is that the books have so much more in them for adults than the movie does. There are so many tricks with language pulled in the books, such as in the conversations with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum as well as several other characters, that it really makes you think about the English language as a game with which an endless variety of tricks can be played. In the film, this is hugely downplayed, even if only because it is done visually and the language tricks pass by so fast that kids are almost certain to miss them and even the most attentive of adults will have a hard time keeping up with them.
As a whole, however, Alice In Wonderland is so wildly entertaining that the loss of some of the literary substance does not detract from it as a terrific tale of adventure and discovery, certain to be enjoyed by people of all ages. I have heard plenty of rumors that Lewis Carroll was on any of a variety of drugs while he wrote the novels (and plenty of rumors that he wasn't on any drugs at all), but there are certainly some things in the books and in the movie that could have only been conjured up by the most, um, eccentric of imaginations. We may never know for sure, but at least we have some wonderful entertainment.
Read the books to your kids.
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.
Let's face it, there are moments in ALICE IN WONDERLAND that are absolutely
dazzling, imaginative and as artistic as anything the Disney artists were
capable of doing. And yet, for all its achievement in the art of animation,
this Disney film has always drawn mixed notices. Perhaps part of the problem
is there is seldom a letup in the zany goings-on--seldom a chance to draw a
breath and rest between each overly imaginative episode. Then too, it's the
episodic quality of the whole story structure that upsets some as well as
the frantic cartoon movements of its weird characters.
Faults and all, it's still a colorful event--probably one of the richest uses of color Disney ever attempted and with some wonderful styling in its background art. For me, a highlight of the film is the singing/talking flower sequence ("Golden Afternoon") with its haughty flowers discussing Alice as if she was some kind of other worldly creature with funny looking stems. (It reminded me of the snooty elephants laughing and speaking with contempt of the new baby elephant in Dumbo).
Other bits are equally brilliant--the shuffling army of cards in the Queen of Hearts episode; the baby oysters clothed in blue bonnets and pink dresses for the Walrus and the Carpenter; the droll humor in the Tweedledum/Tweedledee sequence; the smoking Caterpillar becoming irate when his three inches of height becomes the subject of conversation; and of course, the Mad Tea Party, full of hilarious slapstick and immensely aided by the voice talents of Bill Thompson (White Rabbit), Jerry Colonna (March Hare) and Ed Wynn (Mad Hatter). No less impressive is Verna Felton as the raucous voice of the Queen of Hearts in some of the film's funniest moments. With her army of cards, she plays a wicked game of croquet with flamingoes as mallets, hedgehog as a ball and cards as hoops, all the while displaying a lethal temper.
Despite some brilliant animation, pleasant songs and gorgeous art work, it's just another example of how difficult it is ("impassable" to quote Carroll) to translate this particular tale to the screen and still remain faithful to the original. Others (many other versions, in fact) have failed--but Disney at least provides a sprightly, if frantic, version that has appeal for adults and children.
Perhaps because its surrealism matched the hippy culture of psychedelia, ALICE enjoyed a welcome theatrical return engagement in the '60s and has become more respected in recent years (an American-made British fantasy popular even in the U.K.) as one of the studio's finest efforts.
Ironically, one of its most delightful characters--the doorknob--never appeared in the book but was applauded everywhere as an inspired bit of business.
Disney has a knack for enlightening children to tales from centuries ago
by animating them, adding some songs and making everything pretty and
colourful, Alice In Wonderland is that and a whole lot
Learning about Literary Classics from Disney cartoons is the most convenient, entertaining and wildly amusing ways of seeing what an author had intended the viewer to create in their mind. But nowadays, thanks to television, children can hardly get past the first sentence of a book without wanting a Pikachu or some sort of explosion to take place.
That's where the magic of Disney films come in. The animators, imagineers, musicians and creators take massive pride in the making of their literary classics to Disney masterpieces and Alice In Wonderland is a prime example.
The story of young Alice toppling down a rabbit hole and meeting a bunch of locals in the magical world of Wonderland is created perfectly through this Disney adaptation. Taking aspects from both the original Alice and Through The Looking Glass, the exploits of Tweedledum and Dee to the Mad Hatter's Tea party blend seemlessly in this brilliant animational masterpiece.
The musical score, with each character owning their own theme music, and the various songs throughout are enjoyable and fantastic.
The characters themselves shine, making each and everyone of them memorable especially the talents of Ed Wynn as The Mad Hatter and the brilliant J. Pat O'Malley as the Tweedles and their story telling equivalents.
So, the ideal way to introduce children, or even Highschool Students having to do books from the 19th Century, is to find a Disney Classic such as Alice In Wonderland and marvel at the creative genius behind the team that made books exciting for the new generation.
For material that does not lend itself very easily to cinema, this is a
pretty good adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland" with some enjoyable
characters and sequences. It succeeds, at least in a basic way, in
capturing part of the manic but imaginative nature of Lewis Carroll's
Much of the language, poetry, and ideas that make the original story so captivating cannot really be conveyed very easily in a movie, and so it would be nearly impossible for any cinema version of Alice to be completely satisfying to those who love the book. Instead, this version simply tries to make the characters come to life, and to use the animation to recreate the feel, if not the depth, of Alice's experience.
The animation drives most of the movie, and at times it is pretty imaginative. Some of the voices work very well, too, with the likes of Ed Wynn and Sterling Holloway fitting the animated characters quite well.
Carroll's stories are so enchanting and creative that it is no surprise that there have been so many efforts through the years to capture the magic of the Alice stories on film. None of the cinema versions has yet come close to matching the books, yet the material itself has made most of them worth watching. In this one, the overall production has a definite Disney style to it, which makes it different from the original, but as a movie it works pretty well.
Among all the Disney cartoons I have seen (and I think I've probably seen them all, until "Taram...", in 1983), "Alice in Wonderland" remains my favorite one. Of course, it has a lot of differences, comparing to the wonderful book from Lewis Carroll, but Walt Disney managed to give a strange object, without a real classical story (with a starting and an ending), which gives this film a funny "experimental side"... And I particularly love the beautiful colors in this film. It simply makes you want to follow Alice, who follows herself the White Rabbit, in the wonderland. Maybe "Alice in Wonderland" is more an "adult cartoon".
I have always liked this film, being a true blue Disney fan I consider it on of the great ones. I like the animation from the fifties. I have read the books and they frightened me more than this film, I know some of the reviewers feel the opposite. I feel that the Disney artists had a touch of what Wonderland is like and just had fun with this one. It is true there is no great feats here but when I have had a stressful day I like to put the brain in neutral and just enjoy the dazzling colors. The silliness is great and the cast brilliant. Alice was one of Mr. Disney's least favorite characters, he thought she was too cold. But when you are surrounded by a bunch of loonies that don't care for you I think you might be cold too. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate this an 8.
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