Alice In Wonderland (Blu-ray)
For the most part, everyone knows the story of ALICE IN WONDERLAND based on the book from Lewis Carroll. Disney cleans it up with a sweet animated version where everything is still weird but far safer. The story begins when curious young Alice follows a peculiarly rushed white rabbit down a hole. Running into talking plants, animals, doors and other creatures, Alice enters a world of whimsical nonsense. Trying to find her way she meets the evil Queen of Hearts who is trigger happy to behead anyone.
This 1951 animated version from Disney is far more…boring, than I remembered. Granted it is old, but I still like SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and CINDERELLA. I now understand why Tim Burton took the Mad Hatter character and beefed it up a bit for his new version in 2010. Easily the funniest and most entertaining scene, the Mad Hatter along with the March Hare and the little Dormouse take crazy… errr mad to the next level. Delightfully fun and silly, drinking an absurd amount of tea with a variety of teapots pouring and singing “The Unbirthday Song,” the tea table scene is easily the most memorable.
Along with the crew at the extended tea table, ALICE IN WONDERLAND provides some other memorable characters such as the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, The Queen of Hearts and her minion of playing cards, a dodo bird used as a mallet (one of my favorites) and the smoking Caterpillar (Smoking is surprisingly abundant). On the other hand, the film’s major flaws were the lack of memorable songs despite having more music than other Disney films and no coherent story line or bigger message.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND isn’t terrible. The ideals and imagination are wonderful. The craziness is part of the charm. Little Alice seems to not be afraid of anything but then again this is a dream. Continually running into rhymes and riddles, Alice finds herself on a path of very unhelpful creatures, which is a welcome change to a cookie cutter atmosphere of a children’s film. Definitely diving in the realm of darkness, it walks the line of nice and mean. I’m not sure Disney knew where it was going with the film but thought the nonsensical aspect seemed too childlike to pass up.
I’m sure some of ALICE IN WONDERLAND will still be fun for children with all the colors but it really doesn’t hold the test of time compared to the greatness of today’s children films, especially in a world with Pixar movies. Its kookiness is sweet and some kids might like the silliness but overall it lacks some of the progressive substance necessary for today’s standards.
Video: (1080p HD Full-Screen 1:33:1) The picture looks good with magnificent and vibrant colors.
Audio: (5.1 DTS HD-MA) The music is old school and flat, but the sound is just considering it’s from 1951.
Through The Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland (1:16:16): Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice, introduces the feature as she does with about every one on the Blu-ray. Many experts, historians, artists and Disney team members discuss and compare Lewis Carroll’s book with Disney’s imagination of the story. Those hardcore enthusiasts of the tale will love this.
Reference Footage: Alice and the Doorknob (1:33): With optional commentary by Kathryn Beaumont, this is footage from the live action performance of the doorknob scene.
Pencil Test: Alice Shrinks (:54): A very short pencil drawing of the drink me scene.
Walt Disney Color TV Introduction (1959) (1:15): Walt shortly explains the author who originated ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
Painting the Roses Red Game: Of all the boring interactive games Disney has put on their Blu-rays this is easily the best. They are mind puzzle games that I admit I had to use the hint to get through the last ones.
Reflections On Alice (13:27): Experts discuss all the different versions of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and what they used from the original story and how it was created.
Operation Wonderland (10:59): This is an oddly staged making of that was put together back when the film was made. The sound does not sync with the action.
“I’m Odd” Newly Discovered Cheshire Cat Song (3:56): It is what it says, a deleted song that was not used in the film and a little background info to go along with it.
“Thru The Mirror” Mickey Mouse Animated Short (8:49): A Mickey Mouse cartoon inspired by the book “Through The Looking Glass”
One Hour In Wonderland (59:26): A terrible ventriloquist and his dummies spend some time with Walt, Alice and other Disney people. Shot in black and white interspersed with famous Disney scenes, this feature is boring and creepy.
An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland (8:06): Mixing live actions with animation this is a silent short led by another Alice with artists and old cartoons that they are drawing.
Walt Disney TV Introductions (1:09): Very brief introductions from 1954 (same as before) and 1964.
The Fred Waring Show (Excerpt) (30:57): Another black and white explanation from Walt promoting ALICE IN WONDERLAND. After showing more of the process, a reenacting live play of the animated film is put on by costumed performers.
Deleted Materials: Roughly totaling 15 minutes, these are four different featurettes discussing some of the unused material including: Deleted Scene: Pig and Pepper, From Wonderland To Neverland: The Evolution of a Song, Deleted Storyboard Concept: Alice Daydreams In The Park and 6 Original Song Demos.
Original Theatrical Trailers
Interactive Art Gallery