Alice in Wonderland has always been a personal favourite, its structure is episodic admittedly, but the atmosphere, memorable scenes and character as well as Lewis Carroll's way of writing has always been captivating. The various versions of the book, as adaptations and on their own merits, have been interesting and mostly good(only 3 that I've rated 6 and below, two animated versions- not Disney- and Tim Burton's). Along with the Natalie Gregory and the 1983 theatre versions this BBC adaptation is one of the most faithful ones. It's not perfect, the pacing is creaky at times and the scene with Alice stuck in White Rabbit's house takes too long(not really one of the most interesting parts of the book either). The sets are very colourful and fanciful though, and the costuming is to be admired(very detailed even for many of the animal characters being in heavy prosthetics and masks), particularly for the White Rabbit, the Dodo and the Frog Messenger. The photography does have a slightly dated look but is still nice. The music doesn't detract from the storytelling at all, it has a real whimsy and charm and there is an attempt to make it true to Carroll's writing. The writing does a great job capturing the humour, whimsy and way of words that makes Carroll's writing and storytelling so good, it's also very faithfully adapted with lines almost word for word.
The story has all the crucial scenes intact, and is told with a great deal of charm, appealingly oddball nature and whimsical colour, the best scenes being the ones with the Duchess and Mad Hatter tea party. There are times like with the Natalie Gregory adaptation(which is still very good, hit-and-miss casting and songs aside) that the faithfulness can let the pace sag though. The idea of book-ending the 4 parts with Carroll(in his Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, his real name, guise) narrating the story to Alice(Liddell I believe) and her sister was a very good idea and done beautifully. The acting is good, Kate Dorning is too old for Alice but she still gives a spirited and appealingly winsome performance. In the supporting roles, particularly good were Michael Wisher as a quietly menacing but suave Cheshire Cat, Pip Donaghy's appropriately weird Mad Hatter, Jonathan Cecil as a nervous White Rabbit and the intimidating Queen of Hearts of Janet Henfrey. You have to like Elizabeth Sladen(Dr Who's Sarah Jane) as Dormouse, and David Leonard was great as Carroll himself. All in all, faithful and colourful if at times creaky adaptation of a classic. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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