Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Alice in Wonderland Review

Last night I watched Alice in Wonderland the 1951 Disney version with Liam for the his first time.  He was really into all of the different songs and noises and interesting characters.  I had the general sense as a mother at how much darker and different children's movies were in the 1950s than they are now.  I wasn't sure if it was good to have my son see the part that always bothered me with the Walrus and the Carpenter leading the oyster babies into the house and gaining their trust and than eating them.  It always bothered me and despite all of the craziness within the movie, it seemed like the most messed up part to me.  However I am also aware that my son is young and may not grasp this, but we did call the Walrus a bad man and talk about the oyster's being sad and going bye bye.  The movie score was actually not bad and definitely fit in well with the movie.

I have always thought that Alice in Wonderland really looked a lot of the dark personas and the character flaws of society by putting them into each of the characters, we see forgetfulness and time management issues, lack of responsibility, vanity, liar, etc.  Of course becoming older and becoming a parent makes you look at movies (especially kid's movies) in a whole other light.
Alice in Wonderland is based off of the Novels "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carrol.  I have always wanted to read these books, and definitely need to add them onto my list of classics to acquire.

I found a lot of VERY interesting information about the Disney version of the story when I was researching it for example that parts of this film were created as early as 1923 when Walk Disney was merely 21 years old and was working for a different movie studio.  Before finishing the short comedy series the studio was closed and Walt Disney went on to use the adapted short film as a sort of pilot to show to new prospective distributes.  The Alice's comedies series was on air from 1924-1927.  Now remember the movie version wasn't actually released for another 24 years after that.
In 1932 Walt was toying with the idea of making Alice into a feature length film but ended up turning his priorities to Snow White & the Seven Dwarves instead.  However Lewis Carrol's books still resonated with him as he made the Mickey Film "Through the Looking Glass" in 1936.  (Still 15 years before the film came out).
 In 1938 Walt officially registered the title of "Alice in Wonderland" and started working on it, but did not like the dark and grotesqueness of the script and the way that the animation was turning out.  This was also during the economic devastation of WWII and Walt decided to shelve Alice and created instead the films Pinocchio, Fantasia & Bambi.

In 1945, after the war had ended Walt decided to revive Alice but found that the scrip had taken on too literal of a translation of the book.  He had it changed to focus on comedy, music and the whimsical side of the book.  It almost became a live-action animated version but ended up all animated due to the difficulty of doing justice to the book.
Alice did not do well and was one of Disney's lowest grossing films.  British critics felt that Walt Americanized the story and ruined it and Walt felt the film failed because the character of Alice had no heart.  It was the 13th film released by Disney.

 Another interesting fact was that Alice was voiced by Kathryne Beaumont who later went on to voice Wendy Darling in Peter Pan. 
So what is the story of Alice in Wonderland?  Loosely it is a dreamland created by Alice in which nothing is at is seems and everything is as it is not.  Alice falls asleep and ends up in this psychedelic dreamland, where flowers talk and she is about tall, although sometimes growing and shrinking due to mushroom, pill and liquid substance use.  She is constantly chasing the white rabbit who she sees to lead her into the world, and she meets lots of interesting characters.  In the end it was all a dream.