Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972)

Article 3294 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-4-2010
Posting Date: 8-21-2010
Directed by William Sterling
Featuring Fiona Fullerton, Michael Jayston, Hywel Bennett
Country: UK
What it is: Classic fantasy adaptation

Alice falls down a rabbit hole into the world of Wonderland.

This movie makes a real attempt to stick to the original story; in many ways, it may be the most faithful attempt yet, with only the appearance of Tweedledum and Tweedledee as sops to the sequel. It also has a bevy of famous British actors and comedians in the cast, including Ralph Richardson, Peter Bull, Roy Kinnear, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Dennis Price and Spike Milligan. Nevertheless, I found myself hating the movie. Part of the problem is that the movie caves in to certain kiddie movie conventions, such as having Alice sing and dance with the other characters at every opportunity. Another problem is the score which, to my mind, gives the movie the air of “knees bent before a classic” rather than the sense of comic absurdism the story needs. The acting is frantic and confused, the cinematography is often static, and the editing increases the feeling of disjointedness. In the end, the movie left me feeling rather nauseous, and the sense of fidelity towards the story started to come across as the director’s attempt to get around the fact that he didn’t really ‘get’ the story. On the plus side, the costumes and makeup are excellent, and the casting is occasionally inspired; my favorite example of the latter is Peter Bull as the Duchess, a cross-gender conceit that is surprisingly appropriate.


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