Thursday 3 May 2012

Alice In Wonderland (1951)

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is, in my opinion, the greatest book ever written for children. It's a brisk story full of memorable characters and moments of creative brilliance. The sequel is pretty good too. The movie version by Tim Burton, on the other hand, was a horribly inept attempt to put some of that magic onscreen (my unhappy review for that one is here). Of course, that's not the only version of the tale that has been put forth over the years. Like many other enduring classics, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland has been filmed on a number of occasions, sometimes with a number of twists (and, yes, there's at least one porn riff) and sometimes in a straightforward manner. It will probably come as no surprise, considering how well the material suits the studio, that this 1951 animated version from Disney still easily ranks as one of the, if not THE, very best.

If you don't know the story by now then what the hell did you do during your entire childhood? Young Alice goes chasing after a white rabbit who is concerned about his timekeeping, falls down a rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland, a place where people celebrate un-birthday days, a Cheshire cat can appear and disappear at leisure, Tweedledum and Tweedledee reside, drink and food can change your size and much, much more.

The vocal work here is very good from all involved - Kathryn Beaumont, the wonderful Ed Wynn, Bill Thompson (probably most recognisable to many cartoon fans as the voice of Droopy), Pat O'Malley and many others get the opportunity to voice some of the most memorable characters in children's literature and they all do a wonderful job.

Three directors were also involved with this film and a hell of a lot of writers (at least a dozen, if my maths is correct) but the final product just reflects a group of animators and actors all having fun and conveying that to audiences. Alice In Wonderland is inspired lunacy from start to finish, just as the books are.

I think that's maybe why I liked the original material so much, and why I always will. It's really all about refusing to conform to the accepted norm and shows how much fun people can have when they just embrace moments of insanity. Everything in moderation, of course, and that's a message that infuses the final act. But by that point we all know one thing for certain - going down the rabbit hole is something we all secretly yearn to do, at some time in our lives.



  1. Alice is my all-time favorite Disney heroine. She’s so charming and adorable, and Kathryn Beaumont portrayed her perfectly. Also, her bloomers (long frilly underwear) are very cute, and I just love the way her dress poofs up like a parachute. I love the part where she flips over as she waves goodbye to Dinah. And “In a World of My Own” is a very beautiful song I could listen to all day.

    1. I am still waiting on the definitive version of the tale, from the small selection I have seen, but this is a great telling of it :-)