Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Holloway, Jerry Colonna
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Release Date: 28 July 1951
Length: 75 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 5/5 stars
“Disney”s animated, musical retelling of Lewis Carroll‘s whimsical tale follows young Alice as she falls down a rabbit hole and enters a strange and wonderful world that is home to the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the terrifying Queen of Hearts. Boasting the acting talents of Ed Wynn, Sterling Holloway and Kathryn Beaumont (who also voiced the role of Wendy in Disney‘s Peter Pan), this family classic earned an Oscar nod for its playful score.” — Netflix.com
I confess, I am a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I have probably seen just about every version that is out there – the good, the bad and the ugly. I am also the only one in my high school who ever read the original book for my English class and wrote a book report on it. Hey, it was on the list and it was in the garage when I was desperate, what can I say? Even though this “Disney-fied” version does not bear a lot of resemblance to the real story, I still love it the best. When I think of Alice, I think of a blonde-girl in a blue dress with a white pinafore and stockings. Even though this version is not necessarily true to the book, I feel that the Disney animators really captured the feel of Wonderland. I love the garden of flowers and the woods that Alice wanders through. They are some of my favorite sequences and were made entirely for this film. I used to spend hours drawing these strange hybrid creatures and trying to invent my own! The creatures who populate Wonderland are so cleverly drawn, so interesting, colorful and zany – children cannot help but be captured and sucked into the movie! As you grow older, you realize that there are a lot of moral messages and lessons contained in this film, but, when you are child, you just sit back and enjoy the madness!
The music is quite wonderful in this film. All of it is a bit different than the typical Disney music and is not what I would call Sing-Along material, but the songs really suit the feature and help move the plot along. You find songs in the most unexpected places – from a Dodo trying to burn down the Rabbit’s House to the Red Queen throwing a temper tantrum to Tweedledum and Tweedledee telling a tale about a walrus & a carpenter. I am once again amazed at how clever and inventive the Disney writers, musicians and animators are when I watch this film. Children will love the madcap adventures of Alice and will not even realize that they are learning at the same time!
The new DVD version offers a few special features, most of which were not that great, in my opinion, and few of which will hold a child’s attention. There is a deleted sequence that they show through sketches, an old song that was supposed to be sung by the Cheshire Cat (mostly my favorite character in the film), a featurette on how this movie finally made it to screen, sing-along songs and a few games. My favorite special feature was the Mickey Mouse cartoon “Through the Mirror” where Mickey dreams that he crosses to the other side of the mirror, where furniture is alive and nothing is quite what it seems. It is clearly inspired by Alice in Wonderland and is really cute.
If you have not seen this movie, you have to rent it. I know that a lot of people out there are purists and they bemoan how the plot is changed and the characters are pulled from both Alice In Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, which is true, but there is still a lot to enjoy. Treat yourself – and your children – and rent or buy this DVD for an en enjoyable night’s entertainment!
This movie features some strange/borderline weird sequences, but there is nothing too scary. There are a few scenes of potential violence, but nothing is shown and smaller children will probably not be fully aware of what is happening. Recommended for children of all ages – no one really understands this movie anyway so you don’t need to wait for them to understand the plot!