Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Alice in Wonderland (1951) movie poster

directors Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
viewed: 02/22/2014

For most families, a flick from the Disney canon wouldn’t necessarily be a change of pace, but for us, that’s what it is.  We have been sort of working our way through the Disney feature films, but very slowly and sporadically.

Disney’s 1951 version of Alice in Wonderland is perhaps not accordingly true to the original text, but it is a lush, gorgeous Technicolor fantasia of its own.  The colors and designs are vibrant and alive.  And while the film’s more or less picaresque narrative keeps it from really becoming quite a great movie, it’s indeed a very fine one nonetheless.

Oddly enough, my kids aren’t all that familiar with the story or the source material, and resultingly, Felix described the movie as “weird.”  Well, yes, Alice in Wonderland is weird, an absurdist fantasy world that has become shorthand for when things get strange.   I tried to explain the term “down the rabbit hole” to them, but I guess they’ll have to wait to hear someone else use that term somewhere to appreciate it.

Favorites of mine include the Cheshire cat, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, and more.  There are a number of good tunes as well, most specifically, “The Unbirthday Song”.  There are lots of nice sequences.

I’ve always found Alice a little discomfiting in that her whole world, while nonsensical, is also sort of rude and uncaring.  It’s not that I intellectually have a problem with it, but it’s the overall tone of the story that is sort of discordant and sort of disturbing.  If anything, that may well be to the merit of the story, it’s just how it sits with me.

The last Alice in Wonderland (2010) I saw was the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton one, which is quite the departure from the text as well.  I don’t know that one needs a definitive version of Alice.  I quite like Jan Švankmajer’s Alice (1988).  Maybe I’ll have to queue that one up too.

The kids did enjoy it, this Disney film.  It’s quite lovely in its way.

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