From the Page to the Screen – Alice in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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From the Page to the Screen – Alice in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a classic 1865 novel written by Lewis Carroll. It is one of the most important novels of the 19th century and one of the most famous instances of a nonsense story. It influenced countless other cinematic adaptations, but here I am going to talk only about the Disney one.

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The animated film was released in 1951 and it did not receive all that great reviews. It definitely did get reevaluated decades after its release and is now really well regarded. However, it is still incredibly underrated as it is in my opinion one of the most creative, boldest and ultimately finest Disney films.

 

PLOT

The film adapts not only the first book but also its 1871 sequel ‘Through the Looking-Glass’. It takes some chapters from both books, but not all of them. Although it still feels too episodic as much as the novel felt, the film is so much better than the book as they took only the best and most interesting chapters, at least in my opinion.

WINNER – FILM

 

CHARACTERIZATION

The characters are pretty good in the novel and Carroll is the one who created them in the first place of course. The Cheshire Cat, The Queen of Hearts, The Mad Hatter and others got famous because of this film and it is easy to see why – they are superbly animated, acted and overall stupendously developed and all are unforgettably crazy.

WINNER – FILM

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Alice in Wonderland

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EMOTION

This goes easily to the film because the book doesn’t really connect emotionally but the film has that wonderful, touching scene where Alice breaks down in tears after getting lost. That is the deepest moment in the film where everything stops and you feel her pain.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

Life as a puzzle, death, dreams and most interestingly language are all so well explored here. The film is never as clever as the book is owing to its variety of themes that Lewis incorporated pretty smoothly. This is thus the only category where the book trumps the movie.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Of course Carroll’s writing is excellent. It is simple but never simplistic. It is actually very clever and the way he uses language is amazing. Both the poems and the riddles are fascinating to read. But the film is also superb with gorgeous animation and a highly psychedelic feel to it. Both are amazing works in their own right.

WINNER – TIE

 

BOOK 2: FILM 4

Yes, I firmly believe that the film is better in this instance. Certainly the novel is cleverly written and crafted, but the film is more emotional, overall much more memorable and both the plot and the character development are stronger. I still really enjoyed this classic novel, but when hearing of Alice in Wonderland, I immediately think of this film first which is a testament to its timeless appeal and unprecedented power.

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Alice in Wonderland (1903)

Alice in Wonderland ReviewAlice in Wonderland Review

Alice in Wonderland is a 1903 silent short film directed by Cecil Hepworth and starring Mae Clark. It is such a good first adaptation of the novel.

Yes, this is the very first cinematic adaptation of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and it truly is stupendous. It has its technical problems as the restoration is not great and it shows its age plus the score that they added was not good as classical music does not fit the material at all, but other than that the film features groundbreaking, terrific special effects with the shrinking/enlargement being particularly striking for its period.

I disliked that they included the woman with the baby segment as that is my least favorite from the book, but all of the others are excellent from the White Rabbit to the shrinking which is the highlight to the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. I also really liked the Queen of Hearts and that card parade was so well filmed. It lasts for just about 9 minutes, but is actually not rushed and it works pretty well as a short adaptation of the book.

Alice in Wonderland holds up remarkably well with striking special effects and some stupendous scenes.

My Rating – 4

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland Review

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is an 1865 classic fantasy novel written by Lewis Carroll. It is such a quintessential family fantasy novel that is a timeless joy to this day.

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It’s no use going back to yesterday,

because I was a different person then

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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It is probably the first work in the nonsense subgenre where the plot is seemingly nonsensical and where everyone is acting crazy. Its story is so well known by now that I don’t need to summarize it. Of its various film adaptations, none of it managed to match its quality, only the Disney version which is to me even better than the novel.

Let’s talk about each and every chapter. Chapter One – Down the Rabbit Hole is such an undisputed perfect opener and I love everything about it. The way it starts off is riveting, Alice is well introduced, The White Rabbit is so much fun and of course those size cakes are great.

Chapter Two – The Pool of Tears is very engaging once again and very atmospheric, but even though I liked the mouse character, I found it to be forgettable compared to the rest and this chapter is quite uneventful.

Chapter Three – The Caucus Race and a Long Tale is so much fun and it is the first chapter that showcases Alice not fitting in this crazy world and others being frightened of her in an amusing way.

Chapter Four – The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill is phenomenal as the titular character is so memorable and Alice’s situation here is unforgettable.

Chapter Five – Advice from Caterpillar features this awesome character who is easily one of the best ones in this book. His riddles are entertaining and he is such a unique, odd creature and the plot point with size here is one of the highlights.

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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Chapter Six – Pig and Pepper has a great introduction to The Cheshire Cat, but I really disliked The Duchess as her character is quite forgettable and pointless.

Chapter Seven – A Mad Tea-Party gives us so many classic parts and characters. The March Hare and The Mad Hatter are amazing and so funny, this sequence is so authentic and brilliant in its craziness and it is probably the best chapter of the entire book.

Chapter Eight – The Queen’s Croquet Ground finds us meeting this crazy queen and she is an awesome villain. The game is great, the suspense is evident and it is such a great point in the book that I wish that it happened later on, just like in the movie.

Chapter Nine – The Mock Turtle’s Story has its moments, but the characters here are very forgettable and the chapter feels like a filler.

The same applies to Chapter Ten – Lobster Quadrille which is basically the continuation of the previous chapter.

Chapter Eleven – Who Stole the Tarts has many great developments and is such a great build-up for the finale and I liked the king character, quite a bit actually.

Chapter Twelve – Alice’s Evidence is awesome! It is such a great action packed final chapter. I loved the various testimonies, I loved the chase where the cards chased her and the ending is so satisfying.

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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The dialogue is the highlight of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland naturally. it is so clever and sophisticated and it is the reason why I deem it to be a book for adults more so than for children. The poems are great, the riddles are memorable and it utilizes on the English language in such a great way.

I wish that some parts weren’t filler-like and some characters weren’t forgettable, but most were memorable, the plot here is mostly spectacular and of course unforgettable and it is just such an influential novel that deserves praise centuries after its release. To me it is uneven and far from perfect, but I still really enjoyed it as it is such a memorable, amusing read.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is uneven in terms of pacing as some parts do feel like filler, but it is mostly such a terrific book filled with a memorable storyline, crazy and amusing characters, great humor, superb dialogue and excellent writing. It deserves its classic reputation.

My Rating – 4

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Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Image result for alice in wonderland disney gif

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

Alice in Wonderland is a 1951 animated musical fantasy film which is Disney’s 13th animated film. It is a hugely underrated, amazing film.

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Most everyone’s mad here.

You may have noticed that I’m not all there myself.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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Being based on a classic book which is very episodic, the film is quite episodic in nature itself. Sometimes it was too episodic, but for the most part they actually did the best they could for such an uncinematic book and I applaud them. Because of its episodic nature, I am going to review the story from the first plot element to the last one instead of the usual format.

It starts with Alice being bored from listening the book her sister is reading to her, she sees the White Rabbit and follows him to the rabbit hole. This beginning is perfectly edited, it is not too long nor too short, and it introduces us to the character of Alice wonderfully. Next, the journey through the hole is remarkable in terms of its animation and visual style. The next couple of sequences with size-altering food are very faithful to the source material and well-done.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum sequence could have easily been a detour, but thanks to their tale of The Walrus and the Carpenter, it becomes more than a detour – it is one of the darkest and most heartbreaking scenes ever to come from Disney because of the poor oysters. It gave me nightmares as a child and it is not easy to watch even now. Needless to say, it is one of the most underrated moments from the studio.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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The sequences with Bill the Lizard and the flowers are both interesting and memorable, but after those scenes comes Caterpillar in what is one of the highlights of the film. It is, as always, visually stunning and hallucinatory. And the character of Caterpillar is the first truly great and memorable character who really gives Alice a headache, but also moves the plot forward with his mushroom advice.

The next scene introduces us to the next great character – The Cheshire Cat and it’s a great scene. The part with Mad Hatter is one of the best and most memorable parts in the movie thanks to superb the Unbirthday Song which is the finest song in the film, excellent character of Mad Hatter and terrific, quick and hilarious dialogue exchange which was wonderfully taken from the book.

The next emotional part where Alice gets lost in the woods is the added scene not present in the book and it was a superb move because it slows the pace which was much needed and gives some character development for the protagonist. The final part of the film is of course wonderfully epic and menacing and the conclusion is perfect.

Alice is a very good protagonist, exceptional for this type of film as she actually gets some development and realizes her mistake in wanting to be in this crazy world. She starts to appreciate the real world by the end and that character growth is awesome and is pleasantly reminiscent to Chihiro’s journey in ‘Spirited Away’.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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Now let’s talk about the characters she meets along the way, all of them immensely crazy and memorable. As I said above, Caterpillar is terrific. I loved some of his hilarious lines (“Who are you?!”), his look and his voice. He is a great plot device, but a genuinely unforgettable part of the film too.

Mad Hatter and March Hare are phenomenal as these two crazy lunatics who drink tea and celebrate Unbirthday. They gave probably the most headache to Alice and are simply unforgettable Disney creations. I just loved their many instantly memorable one-liners. The Dormouse is a mystery and whether or not he is their prisoner which again gives the movie a very dark edge.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee aren’t as essential to the film but are still solid. The Walrus and the Carpenter are terrific villains for sure and of course the White Rabbit is a fabulous plot device. His constant appearance throughout the film is very well thought out and his appearance and his signature clock make him very memorable.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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Doorknob is interesting, Bill the Lizard is classical funny character and the flowers are memorably bitchy and awful to Alice. I also loved those crazy birds near the end as they are all stupendously designed. The Cheshire Cat is phenomenal. He is again a great plot device, but more than that as his one-liners about craziness stole the show here and of course his loony personality. There is no denying that Alice in Wonderland is reminiscent to Looney Tunes in a way and because I love both Looney Tunes and Disney naturally I adore this film.

The Queen of Hearts is fantastic. She is also underrated and while not one of the best, she is one of the better Disney villains and her catchphrase “Off with her head!” is easily recognizable. She looks great and sounds phenomenal and is just such a superbly realized character who is so unstable and dangerous that everyone is walking on eggshells around her.

The animation in Alice in Wonderland, while not quite refined as Disney’s previous efforts, is nevertheless very interesting and original. It achieves the whimsical and hallucinatory feel which perfectly accompanies what goes on screen and was a perfect way to film this particular book. I loved its dark color palette so much and the character design is particularly amazing here with all of the characters looking intriguing and well thought out.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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It is, along with ‘Fantasia’, the weirdest animation ever to come from Disney and it may be the reason why it flopped when first released. But it is a joy to watch and as world building goes, it is one of the very best from the studio – it transports you to Wonderland wonderfully with great animation and attention to detail and is a big reason why this film works so well.

The soundtrack of the film is a curious one in that it has both a lot and a few songs meaning that the songs are some of the shortest in the Disney canon, but there are however around fifteen of them which definitely has to be the largest number of songs ever for Disney. Because there are so many songs, many are too short and not particularly memorable to mention.

Very Good Advice is a heartbreaking scene with moving lyrics, A-E-I-O-U is too short but visually pleasing and Old Father William is again too short to talk about. We’ll Smoke the Blighter Out is again short but very entertaining. The film has a lot of these small songs which last for less than half a minute. I’m Late is certainly the best of those incredibly short songs as it is very catchy and a lot of fun.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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And now for the film’s three best songs. All in the Golden Afternoon is one of them. It describes flowers so well, it’s perfectly sung and it has such a wonderful, memorable chorus. I love this entire scene a lot and it’s very underrated.

The Unbirthday Song is naturally the highlight of the film as the funniest scene in the movie, but the song itself is terrific. It is so well incorporated into the sequence, it has phenomenal explanatory lyrics for this made up holiday and the ending with the fireworks is the standout moment.

But actually the best song in the film is Painting the Roses Red which is one of the most underrated Disney songs of all time and one of my favorites as I love it so much. It is certainly a children’s song in its tone, but the lyrics are again fantastic (the movie surely knows how to use songs to advance the plot and build characters) and it is again wonderfully sung. It’s just such a hugely fun number with such fun lyrics and a great, easy to sing to, catchy tune.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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The story is adapted in a wonderful way. Some boring characters from the book such as The Duchess are removed and the scene in the woods is added which is a great plot point to add to slow things down. For all these reasons and because it visually is a wonder and because it is very faithful, it is undoubtedly the best adaptation ever of this particular book.

There are some small flaws I have with this film. Sometimes it felt too episodic. There are too many (short) songs here and particularly the pacing is troublesome as it is way too frenetic and fast and most of the film is oddly paced in my opinion. That’s a problem many Disney classics share. And it is way too short in runtime as 75 minutes was just not enough. It is so incredibly entertaining that I wanted more of it.

But the score is amazing with March of the Cards in particular being just a fantastic, very fun composition. The voice acting is phenomenal across the board with Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn and Sterling Holloway being the standouts. It has a great attention to detail, it is emotional at times and of course both the humor and the dialogue are some of the best that Disney has ever put out.

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Alice in Wonderland Movie Review

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Alice in Wonderland is in the end still a great classic of a film and actually my fifth favorite Disney film. It is immensely underrated and I do not get why more people do not consider it one of Disney’s best when it so clearly is. It is different than all Disney films and thus should be appreciated.

With hallucinatory, outstanding and different animation and many simply unforgettable crazy characters such as Mad Hatter, Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland is definitely too short and fast paced, but it features amazing world building, superb voice acting as well as some of the best dialogue and humor ever to come from Disney along with a couple of wonderful songs. It is a weird, crazy and unforgettable journey and thus the ultimate adaptation of this famous book and a shamefully underappreciated movie which is one of the greatest Disney animated films of all time.

My Rating – 4.5

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