Saturday, February 6, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 13: Alice In Wonderland

Series Intro: Here's Part 13 of this multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They'll mostly be in release date order, save for those that aren't available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers will be skipped to note missing movies)

Some background info (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Alice in Wonderland
Release: July 26, 1951
Running Time: 75 minutes
Estimated Cost: $3 million (1951) ($24,754,269.23 - 2009) Estimated Revenue: n/a
Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
I honestly couldn't do a blow by blow summary because so much happens. It's much like a Family Guy episode, that doesn't end anywhere near where the beginning started but I'll give my overview of it:

Alice is lazily spending the afternoon being tutored in history, when she imagines what life would be like if animals wore clothes and flowers could talk. Then mysteriously a white rabbit in a petty coat runs by shouting he's late! Alice follows this strange creature down a rabbit hole.

After her first "drug" experience where she gets both high and low, as she begins to figure out how these potions work, Alice finds herself meeting the Dodo, who has a group of blockheads running around in the tide to get dry. Alice gets caught up in his story (as she tends to do all over Wonderland).

Alice continues her misadventures as she meets Twiddle Dumb and Twiddle Dee (who tell the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter). More White Rabbit.  And then off to the talking Flower Bed. Things tend to not be what Alice was thinking back on the shores with her tutor, as the Flowers treat her badly. Then she meets the huka smoking caterpillar. And The Cheshire Cat. None of these creatures are very helpful while Alice struggles to follow the rabbit and eventually figure out how to get home.

The Mad Hatter, March Hare and Door Mouse invite Alice to an Unbirthday Party, and probably one of the most vexing scenes of the movie, they never let her have a word. She leaves and finds herself in the Queen of Hearts' garden, where the cards are painting the roses red. The Queen of Hearts also prevents Alice from getting home and threatens "off with her head" to Alice more than once. After a crazy trial, Alice races away trying to get back home, to realize that she's only asleep under a tree.

The Alice in "our world" wakes up and ponders upon her "dream."


There are so many to count and innumerate,

Some of my favorites are: The Walrus and the Carpenter, I'm Late, Un-birthday, Painting the Roses Red (for a full list go here)

Although none of the songs would become "classics" they really helped move the story along in the truest sense of the word "musical." I wish Alice would have sung more though too!

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This movie seemed like a great Transition between the crappy package films and the full narratives that are to follow (skipping over Cinderella). With so many characters and short vignettes it allowed WDAS to have multiple directors (which has been sighted as one of the downfalls for this box office flop).

Disney himself has said that some of the reason this movie didn't do so well was because Alice was to apathetic and no one was able to relate to her. I would have to disagree with this, although, Alice was no Dorothy Gail and Wonderland was no Oz, their situations were almost identical. So what makes Dorothy more empathetic than Alice... I don't know. I wanted them both to quickly exit those lands. I think the problem was the rest of the characters. While in Oz, Dorothy had helpful friends that truly wanted to help her solve her problem, while Alice was met with obstacles every step of the way. I wonder if Dinah had accompanied Alice on her journey, if Alice would have gained more sympathy.

Animation Rating: 3 out of 5

Some of the cartoonyness of previous releases are gone, giving way to more of the craziness out of this world animation that really gave Wonderland a unique perspective. Cinderella boasted grand sets, while Alice had wild imaginative places, just a bit askew from reality. The entire movie took place in the exterior, but did lack some of that authenticity that made Bambi so real.

The Test of Time:

I didn't like this that much as a child, but seeing it again, I really like it. Alice has rides in every Magic Kingdom park around the world (two in Anaheim). Disney's Alice has become the staple of all Alice (and one that is the flame all future Alice's are compared to). Hell, Disney Studios (not WDAS) is scheduled to release an updated live action version of this tale.

Alice had several re-releases since it's premier (although none were within Walt's lifetime).

Next Up:
Peter Pan! (A "hero" movie versus a "princess" movie. Note: "Hero" was a failed marketing ploy Disney franchised to counteract the "Princess" campaign in hopes to draw in as many young boys as the princess campaign did for girls.)


1 comment:

janice said...

when she imagines what life would be like if animals wore clothes and flowers could talk.

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