Alice in Wonderland (1949)

Article 1865 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-23-2006
Posting Date: 9-20-2006
Directed by Dallas Bower
Featuring Carol Marsh, Stephen Murray, Pamela Brown

Lewis Carroll tells Alice and her sisters the tale of Alice’s descent into the rabbit hole and into Wonderland.

This British/French production of the Lewis Carroll tale has been eclipsed by the more popular and famous Disney animated version that came out in 1951. This one is almost forgotten, and it’s a bit of a shame; it may well be the most faithful adaptation of the story to date. One problem with adapting this story to the screen is that there really isn’t a plot to speak of; it’s rather a series of comical set pieces, full of absurdist logic and satire. Adapters usually take the main characters, throw in a few from “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, and try to build a story around it. This one takes a different tack; though most of the movie is a combination of live-action and puppet-style animation, the opening sequence introduces Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell, and several of the people who figure in their lives, and the movie puts forth the fact that the characters in the story were actually modeled off of these real life people. Thus, Pamela Brown plays Queen Victoria as well as supplying the voice for the Queen of Hearts, Felix Aylmer plays Dr. Liddell as well as playing the voice of the Cheshire Cat, etc. The stop-motion puppet work is a little ragged, but fun and engaging, and the story itself remains very faithful to the story as written; none of the characters from “Looking Glass” appear. I quite like the end result, and though I do appreciate that most of the songs feature the actual words as they appeared in the story, I think the movie makes a mistake setting them to opera-style music. My print is fairly jumpy and poorly edited, but it seems that nearly sixteen minutes of the movie is missing, as it only runs about eighty minutes. Still, of the versions I’ve seen, this is the one I would choose to watch (though, in all fairness, I must say that I haven’t seen all the versions out there).


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