ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Directed By: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, & Hamilton Luske
Produced By: Walt Disney
Based On: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass
Premiered On: July 26, 1951
Distribution By: RKO Radio Pictures
Seeing as I’ve already reviewed Disney’s Alice in Wonderland at least in concerns to a lot of random trivia and fun facts, I’ll remain focused on the three elements of the film’s story compared to the original, my choice in song that encompasses the film as a whole, and whether this is a film for all ages or younger audiences.
The tale of Alice begins one lazy summer afternoon as Alice tries to pay attention to her history lessons but finds it rather difficult to focus on a book without pictures or conversations. Her attention is further grabbed by the incredibly odd sight of a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a rather large pocket watch racing by with cries of being late for a very important date. Curious as to what the White Rabbit could possibly late for, Alice gives chase and after a bit of a tumble finds herself in the maddening world known simply as Wonderland.
As she searches high and low for the White Rabbit, Alice meets an incredibly diverse, and rather mad, cast of characters such as the eccentric Dodo, a choir of singing and talking flowers, a egotistical hookah-smoking Caterpillar, and a deviously grinning Cheshire Cat just to name a few.
After taking part in the stupidest tea party in all of her life, which to be fair she should have expected with such company as a Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse, Alice is fed up with Wonderland and tries to find her way home only to realize she has no way out. That is, until the Cheshire Cat reignites her curiosity and leads her to meeting the Queen of Hearts where Alice comes close to losing her head on more than one occasion.
Fearing for her safety, and having more than enough of everyone’s eccentricities, Alice runs as fast as she can back to the door as Wonderland slowly starts to unravel around her until she makes it to the talking Doorknob. The Doorknob informs her that he’s still locked and that she needn’t worry about getting back outside of Wonderland, as she is already there asleep and dreaming. Alice wakes with a mild start and her sister, fondly exasperated with her younger siblings fantastical whimsies, leads them back home for tea.
This is one of the few adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s classic story that is as close to the book as can be allowed for time. There are many key moments and characters missing in this film though it can be argued that they were merely switched around with those present in the sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Namely, the twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Walrus and the Carpenter, and the talking, or rather singing, flowers, all of whom were featured in the second book and not the first.
Likewise, the film is missing the characters of the Duchess, her pepper-obsessed Cook, the Duchess’ young baby that turns into a pig upon rescue by Alice, a melancholy Mock Turtle and his musically whimsical Gryphon buddy.
A lot of reasons have been presented as to why these changes were done, from time constraints to trying to keep the story suitable for young audiences. Much as Wonderland is a tale of fantasy and wonder, there are some rather darker tones to its story, particular with the Duchess and how she treats her kid and the fate of said child.
As to the song that I find to fit the film the best… I’ll admit, I was tempted to say it was the song in the opening credits “Alice in Wonderland” that would fit the role the most but really, it’s far too short to consider. That and it is, after all, a credits song and not one featured in the actual film itself. I’ll also admit that the song “A Golden Afternoon” is likely the most recognized of the songs in the film and is definitely one worth watching if only for the stunning array of characterized flowers, but again it’s not a song that really fits the film as a whole.
No, that honor goes to the song sung by Alice herself, “In A World of My Own.” A song that, originally, was going to feature a dazzling array of visuals where Alice’s daydreams would intermingle with the real world until it became difficult to tell just where the reality ended and the dream began. Still, even without those visuals, Alice’s song still holds true to the point of Wonderland and Alice’s adventures there. After all, what child does not imagine a world of there own, where the rivers run up instead of down and the sun and the moon reside together in the sky at the same time?
Overall, Alice in Wonderland gets a solid five out of five stars from me. It’s not the perfect adaptation and while it lacks anything more than the common moral of curiosity and caution, this is a story of nonsense and should be treated as such. Kids will enjoy the wide array of colors and life to be found in Wonderland while adults may remember a time when they imagined such nonsensical things as smoking caterpillars and singing flowers. It’s a film that’s meant to inspire us because if a girl such as Alice can dream up a world as fantastical and everlasting as Wonderland, then who is to say that no one else can do the same?