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Movie Reviews

Alice In Wonderland (1951)



Reviewer: Luke Walkley

Released: 1951 UK)

Director: Clyde Geronimi

Stars: Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn

Certificate: U(UK)

Based on the books by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland follows the story of young girl Alice, who, bored and looking for adventure, decides to follow a peculiar white rabbit. After falling down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in Wonderland.

Along her way she comes across numerous inhabitants and events of Wonderland, a Cheshire Cat that seems determined to confuse her. A tea party held by the infamous Mad Hatter and friend the March Hare, as well as the easily riled Queen of Hearts. Despite Alice’s best attempts she cannot seem to get home.

So what leaves Alice in Wonderland head above the rest of the original Disney animations? The animation itself is beautiful as were the other Disney films at the time, the drawings are based on the original book and the imagination they were designed with is clear for all to see.  The visual highlight being the animation of the Queen of Hearts guards, the pack of cards (who are animated brilliantly as they chase Alice)

However it is the characters within the enchanting story that set this film apart. The fantastically insane and memorable inhabitants of Wonderland create an entire world in which the viewer can immerse themselves. The writing of Lewis Carroll is spectacularly bought to life. The ramblings of the Mad Hatter, the temperamental caterpillar, who is touchy about his size as well as a character removed from the recent update, Bill the Chimneysweep. Each character is uniquely entertaining and as unforgettable as the last. The lines from this movie live very long in the memory especially those of the Mad Hatter and this again is true testament to the brilliance of the writing from Carroll and screenwriters alike.

The film also benefits from the common high standard of Disney composed music, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum provide some light-hearted songs whilst Alice (voiced and sung by Kathryn Beaumont) sings ‘Very Good Advice’ in the film’s most emotional sequence.

For once, I will write this next section in the first person, whist trying hard to refrain from this in other reviews. For me, Alice in Wonderland is the whole of Disney embodied in one film, while others may be more emotional; more family orientated and enjoy more fame and renown. The wackiness and the fact that it only tries to be exactly what it sets out to be, a journey through Wonderland. The characters are as close to perfect in any animation from the original to March of this year’s recreation. Perhaps being brought up on this film has made me slightly biased, but sitting through the film as an adult has not removed any of the magic or marvel that captivated me as a young child. This film is a staple part of any child’s upbringing, as are most Disney films, however I am hard pressed to find another that is movie genius from start to finish.

No other film has portrayed the message of childhood adventure and discovery as much as Alice in Wonderland and for this I am thankful. Each time I sit down to watch this, I find myself in my own version of Wonderland surrounded by each character from the film and not many films have the ability to cause me to interact on such a level.

A true Disney classic and a timeless classic as far as any filmmaking goes, you have to be mad as a Hatter not to enjoy it.

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