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Alice in Wonderland (1951)

  Starring: Kathryn Beaumont, Sterling Holloway, Ed Wynn
Links: Alice in Wonderland on the IMDb, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Cartoon/Animation

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Alice in Wonderland (1951) is also mentioned in pearly's review of From Hell (2001).

"Classic book. Classic movie. Classic Disney." - a review by mino

I've long been a fan of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Lewis Carroll book on which this Disney movie is based, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Alice remains one of the world's most-loved children's books, nearly 140 years after it was first published, and more than a few adults are fans too. Given its age, it is remarkable how much of the twisted wordplay and crazy logic is still understandable, let alone funny.

Alice in Wonderland is a Disney animated version of Carroll's tale. It's not necessarily particularly accurate to the books; lots of bits have been deleted, some bits have been cribbed in from Carroll's sequel, Through the Looking Glass, and some small parts have been added. While the true Carroll fanatic might just get frustrated with what's changed, the fact is they've done a pretty good job: most of what's been cut is either largely unnecessary, or at the very least is a 'slow point' in the books which just wouldn't work as a zany Disney animation.

While it's remarkable that the original book is still entertaining, it's nearly as remarkable that after fifty-plus years, the Disney movie itself would hold up so well. The animation style is, surprisingly, not as dated as you might think: compared to some other Disney movies from the era, it looks quite sharp and clear, and stands out as one of the most 'good-looking' of the early Disney features. This is in part due to the fantastic way the original animators captured the rather timeless Tenniel illustrations from the original version of the book, which are very much a part of the Alice canon.

The jokes and banter are still as sharp as ever, with hardly any jokes showing their age, or being inappropriate for these politically-correct times, as sometimes happens. It's the voice talents, though, that really impress: the character of Carroll's creations are captured almost perfectly, from the wide-eyed innocence of Alice (Kathryn Beaumont) to Ed Wynn's brilliantly insane turn as the Mad Hatter, and Sterling Holloway (better known as Winnie The Pooh) as the wickedly impish Cheshire Cat. This is one of the greatest voice casts assembled in a Disney movie: all the characters really come alive, and each voice is matched perfectly to each of Carroll's lively characters.

While admittedly the overall plot isn't necessarily that great (being really an excuse to string together a series of amusing scenes), it kinda doesn't matter. It's still great fun for kids (when I saw it recently, I also had three kids of varying ages sitting rapt in attention), and it would be a pretty hard-hearted adult who didn't also enjoy it. Disney films are very much a mixed bag, especially of late: this is certainly one of the best for the whole family.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 8 Aug 2002

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Reader comments

  1. THIS IS A KICK ASS MOVIE

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Jim Bob on Fri 03 Oct 2003 03:46 #

  2. This movie is awesome. I'm a huge fan of Walt Disney. I love the Doorknob and the Cheshire Cat. The movie is very different from the book. There's more humor and cartoons. Walt Disney is good at making cartoons.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Mikail on Sun 12 Oct 2003 12:58 #

  3. I have to admit it is not one of my favourite movies. Their are no characters I feel particularly strongly about. Alice isn't a strong or outstanding lead character, the cheshire cat is quite honestly scary, as are Dee and Dum. The Queen isn't an exceptional villian, nowhere close to the league of Maleficent and the Wicked Queen and the White Rabbit is simply annoying. There is a slight hope for the movie in the March Hare and Mad Hatter but only slight. There is no basic plotline just one madcap moment tothe next and the ending is disappointing. I only own this movie as it is part of a collection. Otherwise, it would stay on the shop shelf!

    Rating given: 1

    A comment from Mel (http://www.angelfire.com/dragon/waltdisney) on Mon 13 Oct 2003 23:00 #

  4. This movie is one of my favorite disney moves, second to be exact. Its very imaginative and keeps your mind working. The book is so much better than the movie I must admit. But its all good.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Alyssa (http://cheshirexcat.diaryland.com) on Sun 11 Jan 2004 15:54 #

  5. i love alice in wonderland the move is my all time favorie

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from katie on Tue 27 Sep 2005 07:00 #

  6. I absolutely love this movie. I hope Tim Burton's upcoming movie won't overpower it because I adore it, even though it doesn't completely follow Lewis Carroll's classic story.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Sakura Amatsuka on Sun 07 Dec 2008 17:05 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.50 (6 ratings)

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