This was the first Disney theatrical film to be shown on television, in 1954. It was shown as the second installment of the Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954) TV show, edited to fit into a one-hour time slot. It is also the only Disney feature-length cartoon film to have its first theatrical re-release after it had already been shown on television (although the film had been televised only in an edited, one-hour version).
In the Walrus and the Carpenter sequence, the R in the word "March" on the mother oyster's calendar flashes. This alludes to the old adage about only eating oysters in a month with an R in its name. That is because those months without an R (May, June, July, August) are the summer months in England, when oysters would not keep due to the heat, in the days before refrigeration.
Lewis Carroll wrote the riddle "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" as nonsense - it has no answer. This has not stopped people, despite being repeatedly told that there is not, nor should there be, any answer, from trying to contrive one. Among the suggestions are, "Because Edgar Allan Poe wrote on both" and "Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes" (the second of which is very similar to a solution that Carroll himself wearily suggested when he grew tired of people asking him about it).
While filming the live-action reference scenes for the Mad Tea Party, Ed Wynn ad-libbed the speech where the Mad Hatter tries to "fix" the White Rabbit's watch. ("Muthtard? Don't leth be thilly!") Walt Disney was watching the filming, and told the animators, "Hey, that stuff's pretty funny. Why don't you use that speech in the movie?" The animators objected. "We can't use that. There are too many background noises on the film." Disney smiled, and told them, "That's *your* problem," then walked out of the room. Eventually, with much labor, the Disney sound technicians managed to re-record Wynn's dialogue and erase all the background noises, so that Wynn's ad-libs were used in the final animated film. (The original live-action footage still exists, and has been featured as 'Bonus Material' on Alice in Wonderland (1951) DVDs.)
An early plot idea involved Dinah getting lost in Wonderland and getting turned into the Cheshire Cat. Alice, the cat, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare were to go on a journey together climaxing with Alice's arrest by the Queen. In the end, the Cheshire Cat redeems him/herself and is turned back into a real cat and escaping with Alice for a happy ending.
As Alice is helping the cards paint the roses red, they sing, "Not pink, not green, not aquamarine." Immediately thereafter, the queen's card army arrives, and after the first rank of normally-colored cards, the following three ranks of cards are pink, green, and aquamarine.
HIDDEN MICKEY: In the scene where Alice grows and gets stuck in the White Rabbit's house, if you look closely at the DoDo bird's flame as he lights his pipe, there is a hidden Mickey flickering in the flame.
Continuing the pattern of film versions of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" not being commercially successful, this movie was a huge box office failure. However, it did become something of a cult film during the 1960s, where it was viewed as a "head film". Several years later it became the Disney studio's most requested 16mm film rental title for colleges and private individuals. In 1974, the studio took note of this fact, withdrew the rental prints, and reissued the film nationally themselves
The English novelist Aldous Huxley worked with Walt Disney on early scripts for this project in late 1945. The original idea was for a cartoon version of Alice embedded in a flesh-and-blood episode from Lewis Carroll's life. Huxley's mother, Julia Arnold, was one of the little girls that Carroll used to enjoy photographing, and to whom he told the Alice stories. The project was close to Huxley's heart, but Disney found his work too intellectual, and it was not used. Huxley received no credit on the finished picture.
Early drafts of the script had The Cheshire Cat's recitation of the opening lines of "Jabberwocky" give way to an actual encounter with the Jabberwock itself (to have been voiced by Stan Freberg), from Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky". The sequence was rejected, either because it slowed the story down, or because of concerns that it would be too frightening. Elements of "Jabberwocky" remain in the film, however: aside from the Cheshire Cat's song "T'was Brillig" consisting of the opening stanza, the Tulgey Wood sequence includes at least one of the creatures mentioned in the poem, "The Mome Raths". Concept art was made of the Jabberwock, the Bandersnatch, and the Jub Jub Bird. The Jabberwock had fiery eyes, the Bandersnatch had a long neck and a net for a tail, and one of many concepts for the Jub Jub Bird survives as the vulture-like "umbrella birds" that gave Alice a mean look when she interrupted their bath. Another concept for the Jub Jub Bird was a large eagle-like creature.
Originally, Alice was to sing a song different from "In a World of My Own". It would be a slow ballad entitled "Beyond the Laughing Sky", and it was a song about Alice dreaming of a new world, a world better than her own, very much in the spirit of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939). However, Kathryn Beaumont had difficulty singing, and it was decided that starting the film off with a slow ballad would be a little risky on audiences. The song we hear today, "In a World of My Own", is livelier, and was easier for Beaumont to sing.
An earlier adaptation was planned for the 1930s. The storyboards were done by the talented British artist David Hall. It was a bit closer to the book, but it was rejected for being too scary. Amongst the concepts from this version was the Mad Hatter and March Hare chasing Alice with a knife and scissors, the Cheshire Cat with hundreds of sharp teeth, and Alice nearly beheaded by a grinding gear.
Besides Alice, Kathryn Beaumont is also known for voicing Wendy Darling in Peter Pan (1953). She was asked to continue voicing the two characters in later Disney projects until her retirement in 2005. Both characters have since been voiced by Hynden Walch.
The Mad Hatter is apparently based on the phrase "mad as a hatter" which has a historical basis. In the hat industry of the 19th century there was extensive use of mercury. Liquid mercury is one of the causes of mercury poisoning, which (among other things) causes brain damage. Among the symptoms are slurred speech, memory loss, and tremors, behavior that can be seen as insane.
While not a Princess in the Disney film, Alice has been included in art and music videos of the Disney Princess franchise. She also appears as a Princess of Heart in the Disney-related video game franchise Kingdom Hearts (2002).
This was the first feature film for which Walt Disney was able to use television for cross-promotion. Disney's very first television program, One Hour in Wonderland (1950), which was broadcast on Christmas evening of 1950, was devoted to the production of this film. Naturally, the entire program, including the clips from the movie, was in black and white.
The Dormouse is a lazy and sleepy character in both the original novel and the Disney film. His role however is slightly different. In the novel he narrates a tale about three young girls. In the film he recites the poem "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat", a parody of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". In the novel the one who recites the poem is the Mad Hatter.
The film omits the character of Puppy, a playful dog from the original novel. Puppy is also omitted from many adaptations of the novel, though he is given an expanded role in Alice in Wonderland (2010) by Tim Burton. He is also given a proper name in this film, Bayard.
In an interview with gossip-columnist Hedda Hopper, Walt Disney explained that the Queen of Hearts was somewhat based on rival gossip-columnist Louella Parsons, who was similarly ill-tempered and wore her dark hair in a bun.
There was a ton of cut songs composed for this film (over 30 according to some sources). A few were reworked into songs for other projects. For example, "Second Star to the Right" and "Never Smile At a Crocodile" from Peter Pan (1953) were going to be "Beyond the Laughing Sky", sung by Alice, and "Lobster Quadriddle", the latter which made it into Alice in Wonderland (1937). There were also a couple of cut songs for Mr. Cattarpillar and the Cheshire Cat - the Caterpillar got "Dream Caravan", the Cheshire Cat got "I'm Odd". On the 2004 Masterpiece Edition DVD, Jim Cummings does sing "I'm Odd" as the Cheshire Cat.
In the 1960s, the Alice novels and their adaptations became associated with the counterculture movement and drug culture. The most notable reference to this association was the hit song "White Rabbit" (1967) by Jefferson Airplane. It interpreted surreal moments from the novels as effects of sensory distortions experienced with hallucinogens.
Despite its popularity in the late 20th and 21st centuries, the Cheshire Cat appears to have failed to capture readers and artists' imaginations in the original era of publication. It rarely appeared in art and literature until the 1950s. The Disney version of the character is considered a likely source for its popularization.
In the chapter "A Mad Tea Party", the Hatter asks a much-noted riddle "why is a raven like a writing desk?" When Alice gives up trying to figure out why, the Hatter admits "I haven't the slightest idea!".This turned out to be one of the most discussed sections of the original novel.
The King of Hearts in the original novel is a force of moderation in the reign of his wife. He quietly pardons many of the subjects the Queen has ordered to be beheaded when the Queen is not looking. This guarantees few people are actually beheaded.
The phrase Tweedledum and Tweedledee is used to describe rivals who look and act in identical ways. The phrase is attributed to poet John Byrom (1692-1763), who used it to describe rival Baroque composers Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747) and George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). Some theories suggest that the phrase precedes him and Byrom was merely the first to use it in writing.
The character of Alice, as created by Lewis Carroll, had no last name. In adaptations, pastiche works, and parodies Alice is often named "Alice Liddel" or variations of the name. This is based on the belief that she is a fictionalized version of Alice Pleasance Liddel (1852-1934).
While Lewis Carroll never explained who the Queen of Hearts is based on, several commentators see her as a caricature of then-reigning Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901). This connection has made it to some of the adaptations.
Already during Lewis Carrol's lifetime the character of the Queen of Hearts was confused and conflated with the Red Queen, a chess queen depicted in the second novel. The author tried to clarify their differences but several adaptations of his works chose to combine the characters into one. The Disney version of the Queen of Hearts uses some of the dialogue of the Red Queen.
Besides the fact that they are both fat little men, Tweedledum and Tweedledee are not described by Lewis Carroll. It was artist John Tenniel who decided to depict them as identical twins. His version has influenced most later depictions.
The character March Hare is based on the phrase "Mad as a March hare", which itself is based on the observed behavior of the male European Hare during its breeding period. This odd behavior includes boxing at other hares, jumping vertically for seemingly no reason and generally displaying abnormal behavior. The phrase is quite old, used by several English writers in the 16th century.
Some literary critics believe that the character of the Carpenter, who seduces and eats young oysters, is a caricature of Jesus Christ. Jesus is often depicted as a carpenter, though his profession is not defined in the Gospels. However, it is unlikely creator Lewiss Carroll placed much significance in the character's profession. While working in writing "The Walrus and the Carpenter" narrative poem, Carroll was undecided whether the character would be a carpenter, a butterfly, or a baronet. He let artist John Tenniel decide which of the three would be used, and Tenniel chose the carpenter.
Author Lewis Carroll started working on the original Alice novel in 1862. That year, Carroll was asked to entertain the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church). The trio consisted of 13-year-old Lorina Charlotte Liddell, 10-year-old Alice Pleasance Liddell, and 8-year-old Edith Mary Liddell. He told them a tale about a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He started working on a written version and eventually developed an entire novel.
The sexuality of author Lewis Carroll and how (or if) it affected his Alice novels has been a much discussed topic. Carroll enjoyed spending time with young girls, photographed them in various poses (sometimes involving partial nudity), and was generally interested in juvenile feminine beauty. Some of his biographers have suggested his interest was sexual in nature, though there is no way to confirm it.
The Cheshire Cat from the Alice novels turns invisible and disappears at will. It inspired a Marvel Comics super villain by the codename of "Cheshire Cat". He can turn invisible, intangible, teleports at will and has a memorable grin.
The Gryphon from the novel is actually a griffin, a legendary creature with the head, talons, and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. It is a common theme in ancient art, depicted in artifacts from Egypt, Persia, Anatolia, and Minoan Crete.
The minor character Pat the gardener is omitted from the film and his role is taken up by the Dodo. Pat seems to be a stereotypical Irishman in the novel as implied by his dialogue. The name is short for "Patrick", a Latin-derived name popular in Ireland.
The species of the character Pat the gardener is not clearly identified. Various readers and scholars identify him with either of two otherwise unnamed characters of the novel, a guinea pig and an ape. Pat is depicted as an Irishman and the Irish were often depicted as apes or ape-like in Victorian art. The implication is racist.
A scene from the original novel and its adaptations involves painting white roses with red paint to please the Queen of Hearts. Some literary critics have suggested this is a subtle reference to the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487), a series of dynastic wars for the throne of England. The red rose was a symbol of the House of Lancaster and the white rose a symbol of the rival House of York.
While working on his novel, Lewis Carroll developed illustrations of it. His version of Alice drew inspiration from the female figures used in paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, particularly those by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Arthur Hughes. His drawings were not used for publication.
Prior to the release of the Disney adaptation, the visual look most associated with the Alice character was created by artist John Tenniel. Tenniel illustrated both of the original Alice novels, with his depiction of characters based on the instructions of Lewis Carroll.
While many actresses have played Alice since the late 19th century, only one was closely connected to creator Lewis Carroll. She was Isa Bowman (1874-1958) who started playing Alice in 1888 and befriended Carroll.
The minor character Bill the Lizard appears in the film. He appears twice in the original Alice novel, once using a ladder to investigate the White Rabbit's house and once as a juror in the trial of The Knave of Hearts.
The Dodo is a minor character in the original Alice novel. His role is expanded in the film, where he is depicted as a sea captain and appears in multiple scenes. This is partly because he takes on roles associated with other characters in the novels.
The Duchess, Cheshire Cat's apparent owner in the novel, is omitted from the Disney film. She is a relatively minor but memorable character from the novel, appearing twice in much different circumstances. Artist John Tenniel depicted her as a particularly ugly woman, though the novel does not actually describe her. Tenniel is thought to have based her looks on the painting "The Ugly Duchess" (c. 1513) by Quentin Matsys. It depicts a a grotesque old woman with wrinkled skin and withered breasts.
The Disney version of Alice wears a blue balloon-shaped gown with a white pinafore apron over-top, white stockings, black Mary Jane shoes, white bloomers, and a blue hair bow. The costume has become strongly associated with the character and has influenced other depictions.
In both the novel and the Disney adaptation, the Queen of Hearts is depicted playing croquet. However it is a Wonderland version of croquet, where the balls are live hedgehogs and the mallets are flamingos.
The Disney version of the Queen of Hearts is the closest thing the film has to a villain. She appears in several media associated with the Disney Villains franchise, such as the video game Villains' Revenge (1999) where she does manage to decapitate Alice.
In the original novel the White Rabbit seems to occupy a middle position in the Wonderland social hierarchy. He ranks below the royalty and the Duchess, treating them with excessive deference. He is a servant to royalty but has servants of his own, treating them with contempt. He tends to be pompous when dealing with characters socially inferior to him.
The White Rabbit appeared in the television show House of Mouse (2001) in crossovers with many other Disney characters. His most memorable line is this confession: "I'm not really late, and I don't really have a date. I'm a fraud!"
In the Disney film, the Cheshire Cat recites verses from "Jabberwocky", a poem by Lewis Carroll. The poem is one of Carroll's most popular works and precedes the Alice novels, written c. 1855. It was incorporated in the second Alice novel, "Through the Looking-Glass" (1871).
Walt Disney originally planned for the film to include a song called "Beware the Jabberwock", a musical rendition of the "Jabberwocky" verse. It was written by Don Raye and Gene de Paul, and was to be sung by Stan Freberg and Daws Butler. It was not included in the film but a demo recording survived. It has been included in Disney DVD releases since 2004.
The film depicts the characters the Walrus and the Carpenter, who are not Wonderland characters. They appear in the second Alice novel, "Through the Looking-Glass" (1871) as characters in a story within a story.
The Walrus' seduction of the oysters in the film involves leading them ashore with a flute. This is not based on the original depiction of the character. It is likely derived from the "Pied Piper of Hamelin", a tale about a musician who lures children away with his magic pipe.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee are not creations of Lewis Carroll. They are traditional nursery rhyme characters. They first appeared in print c. 1805, though the work they appeared in is attributed to by then-long deceased poet John Byrom (1692-1763).
The characters most associated with the Queen of Hearts are a large group of unnamed playing cards who act as her gardeners, servants, soldiers, and guards. They appear in the Disney film and many other adaptations.
The live flowers appear in the film though they are not Wonderland characters. They appeared in the second Alice novel, "Through the Looking-Glass" (1871). They are voiced by Lucille Bliss, Queenie Leonard, Doris Lloyd, Marni Nixon, and Norma Zimmer.
Despite the popularity and commercial success of the two Alice novels, author Lewis Carroll never worked on a third one. He continued his literary work with narrative poem "The Hunting of the Snark" (1876), the shortened version "The Nursery "Alice" " (1890), and two-volume fantasy novel "Sylvie and Bruno" (1889, 1893). While some of them have a fan following of their own, none matched the success or influence of the Alice novels.
In the early 1930s, Walt Disney first worked on an Alice in Wonderland film adaptation. At the time he purchased the rights to John Tenniel's original illustrations of the novels. His choice of a protagonist for the aborted film project was Mary Pickford.
In 1938, Walt Disney decided to revive the Alice in Wonderland film project. He registered the title "Alice in Wonderland" with Motion Picture Association of America and hired storyboard artist Al Perkins and art director David S. Hall to develop the story and concept art for the film. The project was aborted because it run into several problems. The art designs of Perkins closely followed John Tenniel's original illustrations of the novels, but proved difficult to animate. The script of Hall turned out to be too grotesque and dark for use in a children's film. Finally, the amount of work needed to produce the film and the associated financial cost were deemed too high.
The concept art of the film was provided by artist Mary Blair (1911-1978) who also worked in several other Disney animated films of the 1940s and 1950s. Her art for the film used bold and unreal colors, and was much different than John Tenniel's original illustrations. Walt liked the concept and used it. Art and animation historians have credited Blair with introducing Modernist art to the Disney films.
The character of the White Knight from the second Alice novel was intended to have his own scene in the film. He would be a source of advice for Alice, but Walt Disney felt the character needed to learn her lessons by her own.
The songwriters for the film created over 30 songs for use in the film, their duration varying from a few minutes to a few seconds. Several were left unused but the film still contained more songs than any previous Disney film.
In Star Trek's "Shore Leave", Dr. McCoy encounters a White Rabbit and an Alice on an amusement park planet where one's thoughts are brought to life. Both characters are dressed as they appear in the Disney animated feature.
While the phrase "grinning like a Cheshire cat" was not recorded prior to the 18th century, its origin is possibly older. Carvings of grinning cats appear in churches of both Cheshire and Yorkshire. Some date to the Tudor period (1485-1603).
The Dodo is named after the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a species of flightless birds native to the island of Mauritius. The species went extinct in the 17th century and remains one of the most famous extinct species known. It is the first species whose extinction is blamed on humans. When humans moved to the island they brought cats with them and rats escaped from their ships. The animals killed the young birds and ate the eggs.
The character Knave of Hearts is based on an alternative name for the playing card Jack of Hearts. The "knave" is an English term for a male servant of royalty. In French decks this card is named after Étienne de Vignolles (1390-1443), a French military commander of the Hundred Years' War.
The film omits the character Mouse from the original novel. He is most notable in the novel for telling the story of the Fury, famous for the phrase: "I'll be judge, I'll be jury," Said cunning old Fury: "I'll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death."'
While Walt Disney released his version of Alice in the 1950s, it was not his first inspiration from the Lewis Carrol novels. Already in the 1920s, Disney had created the Alice Comedies. In the series a live-action little girl named Alice and an animated cat named Julius have adventures in an animated landscape. The series lasted from 1923 to 1927, for a total of 57 films.
The Queen of Hearts is the apparent ruler of Wonderland. She appears in the original novel and many adaptations. She is a personification of blind fury who decrees death sentences at the slightest offense. Her favorite execution method is decapitation.
The Queen of Hearts is based on the playing card Queen of Hearts. The card derives from French playing decks and is named after Judith, a non-royal Biblical figure. Judith is the heroine of the Book of Judith, which is included in the Septuagint version of the Bible and its translations. She is best known for decapitating enemy general Holofernes, a scene often appearing in art.
Some of the earliest works by Lewis Carroll, including the poem "Jabberwocky", were introduced in the self-published periodical Mischmasch (1855-1862). The entire work has been collected and reprinted since the 1930s.
The original novel was called "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865) but that was not always the intended name. The title used by Lewis Carroll in his unprinted manuscript "Alice's Adventures Under Ground". Prior to publication other titles were considered but rejected, including the misleading "Alice Among the Fairies" (though no fairies appear in the novel) and the vague "Alice's Golden Hour".
The Alice character and the Disney version often appear in pornography. An adult Alice is notably featured in erotic graphic novel "Lost Girls" (1991-1992) by Alan Moore. She is featured alongside Wendy Darling and Dorothy Gale, though these characters debuted in the 1900s, not the 1860s.
The character of Jabberwock/Jabberwock was originally going to be used in the film and the production crew had to decide what the monster looked like. The character was a comical looking dragon-like beast with bells and factory whistles on his head. The scene involving it was scrapped and the character never appeared.
The film underperformed at the box office and was considered among Disney's flops. Various reasons have been cited, with Walt Disney himself blaming the failure on the character of Alice herself who was not sympathetic enough. The film later became a cult classic, a box office hit in theatrical re-releases, and was critically re-evaluated. It is often ranked among the best animated films.
The song "Beyond the Laughing Sky" was intended to serve as the first song for Alice. It was one of the ones dropped from the final version of the film. It was later reworked into "The Second Star to the Right" and served as the title song for Peter Pan (1953).
Along with other Disney animated film characters, the Alice characters have been adapted to the Disney comics. They were rarely protagonists themselves but have had crossovers with multiple other characters and at times play individual roles in non-Alice related stories. For example, the Mad Hatter has a part in the Mickey Mouse story "The Blot's Double Mystery" (1955) and the Cheshire Cat appears in the crossover story "Paperin Fracassa" (1967) whose lead character is Donald Duck.
In addition to providing the voice, Kathryn Beaumont also served as the Disney animators' live-action model for Alice. The live-action reference scenes were filmed on a Disney Studios soundstage, with Beaumont wearing an "Alice" dress. For the scene where the giant Alice is stuck in the White Rabbit's house, the stage technicians at Disney built a scale model house, and had Beaumont sit inside it. But animator Eric Larson said they needed to see how Alice's body moved when she was inside the house, in order to animate her properly. So the stage technicians rebuilt the house as a "frame house" with transparent walls, so the animators could study how Beaumont moved while inside it.
The Alice novels by Lewis Carroll leave the family and social class background of Alice uncertain. Her parents are not mentioned. Known member of her household include a significantly older sister, an elderly nurse, and a governess who serves as her main teacher. Based on these few details, on her educated speech, dress, and surroundings, various scholars have tried to deduce which social class she represents.
The grinning Cheshire Cat is one of the most memorable characters in the original Alice novel and its adaptation. Actually the cat is not an original creation of Lewis Carroll. It is based on the idiomatic phrase he/she "grins like a Cheshire cat" which was recorded in print by a 1788 dictionary.
The Hookah depicted in the original Alice novel and its adaptations is a device for vaporizing and smoking flavored tobacco. It is Iranian in origin and from there spread to India and the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans called it "nargile".
Lewis Carroll possibly based certain characteristics and phrased of the Cheshire Cat on theologian Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882), whose last name suggests the term "pussy". Pusey was a family friend of Carroll and one of his teachers.
The Cheshire Cat and derived characters appear relatively often in Japanese manga and anime. For example the Pokémon characters Gengar, a type of ghost Pokémon, have a grin reminiscent of the Chesire Cat, and similar mischief making abilities.
The Cheshire Cat's name derives from the traditional county of Cheshire in England. The name of the county is Anglo-Saxon in origin. Lewis Carroll himself was born in Cheshire and spend most of his childhood there.
A theory suggests that that the phrase "mad as a hatter" may precede the 19th century. It associates the phrase with Roger Crab (1621-1680), an English eccentric whose various professions probably included creating hats.
The character Mock Turtle from the original novel is a chimera-like creature with parts from multiple animals. The name is based on the dish "mock turtle soup", popular in the Victorian era, which substitutes turtle meat with calf's meat.