I’m late I’m late For a very important date. No time to say “Hello, Goodbye”. I’m late, I’m late, I’m late
Recently I haven’t reviewed a Disney classic in a while, so I thought lets watch Alice in Wonderland again. On a golden afternoon, young Alice (Kathryn Beaumont) follows a White Rabbit (Bill Thompson), 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 (Verna Felton) – and her army of playing cards! I think it would be fair to say that the 1951 Disney animated film is most people’s introduction to Lewis Carroll…while I blush to admit it, it was certainly mine. However, having read the books and seen various other adaptations of the stories of “Alice,” this is my favorite.
Although “Alice” was a dud when first released in 1951, it remains one of Walt Disney’s best animated features. Disney stuck by Lewis Carroll’s world of whimsy and nonsense, and deftly wove together Carroll’s first “Alice” book with some scenes from its sequel “Through the Looking Glass.” Purists may be disappointed, but Disney made the film all his own, and succeeded mightily in creating a unique and highly entertaining film while still retaining some of the subtle charm of Carroll’s books.First and foremost, the animation is excellent. Storyboarders and art designers did a wonderful job in creating a surreal landscape and fantastic characters for Wonderland. Although the mark is clearly Disney with regards to character and background design, there is some hint at recreating, at least in part, some of John Tenniel’s character designs from his illustrations from the original “Alice” book; this seems apparent with the Mad Hatter, who looks like a hybrid of Tenniel and typical Disney character design.
The voice actors are also excellent. The Mad Hatter and March Hare were played by old time radio icons Ed Wynn and Jerry Collona, respectively. They bring their comedic talents for eccentric voices and witty wordplay to the fore in the “Mad Tea Party” scene. Kathryn Beaumont is also very good as the protagonist Alice. An assortment of veteran British and American voice actors round out the cast; some, such as Sterling Holloway, would become Disney stalwarts that would remain with the company after Disney’s death. Their talents buoy the film.One cliché that nonetheless holds true for “Alice” is that this is a movie that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Adults may, for instance, be able to pick up on some of the nonsense verse and clever and subtle dialogue and wordplay that was adapted from Carroll’s work. While many have accused Walt Disney of ruining a classic work of literature by removing the adult wit and replacing it with simple pablum that only small children would like, the film still retains some of Carroll’s charm, in spite of Disney’s efforts to dilute the film in his adaptation.I loved this movie as a child and it is still one of my favourite movies. It is one of Disney’s best works, and, in spite of its original critical and commercial failure, lives on as a justifiable cult classic. Watch it with your kids and enjoy the show!