Disney Animated Marathon: Alice In Wonderland (1951)


It’s time for movie #13 in the Disney Animated Marathon!

Story By: Milt Banta, Del Connell, William Cottrell, Joe Grant, Winston Hibler, Dick Huemer, Aldous Huxley, Dick Kelsey, Tom Oreb, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears & John Walbridge
Directed By: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson & Hamilton Luske

I have never partaken in drugs in my life, not that I’m taking a stand on them in any way, they just aren’t for me. I tell you this because while watching Alice In Wonderland I can only assume that this is what the world would look like around me if I were tripping on some sort of drug. Bright colors, animals and plants come to life, people speaking a whole bunch of nonsense and a series of events that are not tied together through any means but my own presence. My drug speak may be quite square and all kinds of lame, but that is the place my mind wanders to when I first think of Alice In Wonderland.

Once my critical brain kicks in it’s hard for me to say that Alice In Wonderland goes much further than a trippy drug induced experience. It does, it’s finding the words to properly express the heights that Alice In Wonderland reaches that is the hard part. To keep it as simple as possible, Alice In Wonderland is a, uh, simple tale, a simple fantasy tale. In its simplicity Alice In Wonderland shows how wonderfully amazing the fantasy genre can be. Hidden beneath the simple presentation is a complex tale that refuses to make a lick of sense and asks for the viewer to do one thing and one thing alone, come along for the ride.

Whether you like Alice In Wonderland or not is completely dependent on your ability to divorce yourself from any preconceived notions of story structure and narrative plot. Alice In Wonderland isn’t a real world fantasy, it is the most elusive of all fantasies, the one hundred percent fantastical kind. I’m not sure if there is a nomenclature for this type of fantasy, if there is feel free to let me know, but Alice In Wonderland refuses to conform to any set of rules or standards of storytelling. Nothing makes sense within the film, no greater theme is being sought after, you definitely aren’t going to get from point A to point B in this movie. Yet, it is fabulous because it does refuse to adhere to any sort of rules, it is over the top and nonsensical and that is what makes it such a great movie.

There is an argument I have quite often with people who aren’t big fantasy fans. That argument revolves around whether or not a fantasy world needs to be tethered to real world aesthetics, rules or structure at some point to actually have any sort of context. I am always on the negative side of that argument, fantasy can have rules and structure, but the purest form of fantasy is all about crazy characters and worlds that intrigue and fascinate without relying on said rules or structure. Alice In Wonderland is all over the place, it is pure fantasy, you never know what will happen from one second to the next. If you view Alice In Wonderland through any sort of real world context then you are doing a disservice to the magical qualities the film possesses. As with most pure fantasy tales Alice In Wonderland needs to be experienced, not placed into a neat and tidy box.

I know I’ve used the word one time too many already, but simple is the best way to describe the animation found in Alice In Wonderland. It is beautiful, but its beauty is brought out through simple, uncluttered lines and lots of variety. The world that Alice enters into is colorful, full of lots of pizazz, weird locales and funky looking characters. The animation stays in step with the fantasy world around Alice, keeping the screen full of variety yet never losing an ounce of detail in the process.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet I am a big fan of the fantasy genre. Alice In Wonderland represents everything that I love about the genre, refusing to make a lick of sense or kowtow to how an animated movie should be put together. It’s a wondrous ride, one that never gets old and is a joy to experience all the way through. I don’t know if its the best film in the marathon so far, but Alice In Wonderland is easily among the best in the marathon.





9 responses to “Disney Animated Marathon: Alice In Wonderland (1951)

  1. It’s interesting to see Aldous Huxley’s name in the story credits; I didn’t know that he was involved with this animated picture, certainly an influential version. Am looking forward to Tim Burton’s version coming soon.

  2. Yeah, Huxley wrote the original synopsis for Disney, but Walt turned down the synopsis because he said he could only understand every third word. However he liked some of it so when they went ahead with the project he still included some of Huxley’s synopsis dialogue and ideas in the final product, although he was never given any official credit for this.

  3. yeah Bill, think you hit the nail on the head there, particularly about the simple yet beautiful animation, its interesting that Disney is going back that route now with the Frog and the Princess. alice in wonderland is just great, but like all great kids films, it has scary moments – the Walrus and the oysters spring to mind.
    like the new web layout too.

  4. I didn’t really touch on it in my review, but AiW was very dark in places and seemed more adult than I remembered it being, that darkness helped enhance the picture for me.

    Glad you like the new layout, I love it, a lot cleaner and less cluttered than any of my old designs.

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  8. Alice is my all-time favorite Disney heroine. She’s so charming and adorable, and Kathryn Beaumont portrayed her perfectly. I love the way her bloomers (long frilly underwear) show often throughout the film, and I just love the way her dress poofs up like a parachute. “In a World of My Own” is a very beautiful song I could listen to all day.

  9. I certainly enjoy Alice as a character, though I’d say she is an instance of being more a part of a collective whole of characters than a character that truly stands out.

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