Monday, February 1, 2010

Alice in TV and Cinema

I'm one of those guys that when I like something, I really like something. Due to the anticipation of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I started to watch the 1985 musical version of Alice in Wonderland, which also led to the viewing of several other versions of Alice that I have obtained through the years including an X Rated Musical Version. We won't talk much about that one because I want to keep this family friendly. Well, my version of family friendly.
I thought it would be awesome to feature a list of the film versions of Alice that I have been exposed to. Keep in mind this is not chronological but it's listed in the order that I was exposed to a viewing of each film. I've also purposely left some out. I've decided only to include some of the most popular and sometimes strange versions. 
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
  • I was first exposed to the Alice stories when my mother rented the musical Alice's Adventures in Wonderland which featured a young Michael Crawford (original Phantom of the Opera) as The White Rabbit and a young Fiona Fullerton as Alice who would go on to be a Bond Girl in A View to Kill. Also in this film are big name people playing the residents of Wonderland, a staple in these productions. Aside from Crawford and Fullerton we've also got Dudley Moore and Peter Sellers to name a few. One thing I love about this movie is how naturally the songs come in and out. That's a huge plus in any musical. The sets are also incredibly beautiful if not obviously manufactured. It works in this movie though due to the childlike nature of the production. The costumes are also top notch despite the majority of them obviously being humans in animal costumes. However, beautiful as this movie is, this movie didn't leave too much of an impression on me. The next one did though.
Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland

  • The following week I was exposed to Disney's take on Alice. As a child, I related more to this version of the Alice character. Voiced by Kathryn Beaumont, who also voiced Wendy in Disney's Peter Pan, this Alice felt more real to me despite being animated. The songs in this one were much better too and Alice was given a driving force to travel through Wonderland: she wanted to get the hell outta there.
  • Originally, Disney had a much different version of Alice in mind, but when Alice in Wonderland fans got a hold of this news, they wrote letters begging him not to detract too far from the book. As a result, Disney's version is very, very stuck strictly to the book and doesn't have the same warm feel as the other films in the Disney Library. Not a bad movie, but I can't help but think it could've been better had Disney just made the film he wanted and ignored the letters from ignorant book fans.
Alice in Wonderland
  • This was the 1985 TV musical I reviewed in the previous article. This one has stayed with me the most out of the rest of the others on this list due to it's script, it's top notch all star cast and it's incredible songs. Click here for a full over view, or just look for it on the right of the blog archive list.
Alice in Wonderland

  • Another all star production, this one made in 1999. A very effective and breathtaking opening scene sets the stage for this production. The camera moves through Alice's room to show toys  that would later become characters in Wonderland, and then moves through the halls of her home and outside to a tea party that shows human guests that would also become characters in Wonderland. Tina Majorina of Veronica Mars and Napoleon Dynamite stars as Alice complete with a british accent. A bit slow at times and sometimes too reliant upon it's big name stars. (Whoopi Goldberg as The Cheshire Cat, Martin Short as The Mad Hatter, George Wendt as Tweedle Dee and Miranda Richardson as The Queen of Hearts to name a few) I give this version mad props though in special effects and in keeping true to the spirit of the book. Also features puppets from Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and not the first time the Creature Shop has done something Alice related, but we'll get to that later.
Alice by stop motion filmmaker, Jan Švankmajer.
  • This version of Alice might be found as strange. A human Alice in a stop motion animated world, Alice travels through Wonderland chasing a stuffed taxidermic white rabbit who bleeds saw dust, and that's nothing compared to the rest of it. Told with very little dialogue, except for some minor narration from Alice, this movie is purely for the visual aspects as opposed to the dialogue aspect like the other movie versions. In one of the more eerie scenes, a mouse makes it's home on top of Alice's head, mistaking it for an island. He even gets as far as starting a fire to cook some rice. It's well worth a view to see the outrageousness of it all.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • One of the few movies that is based purely on the second Alice book Through the Looking Glass. Most Alice film adaptations just takes some elements of Through the Looking Glass - The Tweedles, The Flowers - and plugs them into the Wonderland sequences. This is one of those rare movies that takes Through the Looking Glass and adapts it for film without even touching Wonderland. Kate Beckinsale of Underworld fame stars as Alice in this one of a kind production. The film has truly set itself apart style-wise from the other adaptations on this list due to it's quirky nature. The Red Queen walks around in shiny red pleather. The White Queen has a head of hair that looks like coils of paper. The Tweedles look like a gay couple. Alice changes hairstyles and costumes as she enters each new scene, even sprouting wings at one point. This film is noted for containing a scene from a cut chapter of the original book. 
Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland.

  • This one has got to be my most personal favorite. Alice is decked out with wild hair and a real victorian dress. Gone is the apron and the bright colors, since this version was filmed in black and white to emulate victorian pictures. Gone are also the animal costumes. Alice walks through a dreamlike world, filmed in England during the summer of 1966. This version gives Lewis Carrol's intentions a certain clarity. The lack of animal costumes gives the viewer a closer glimpse of Carrol's intended satire. Highly recommended. 
Alice in Wonderland The X Rated Musical.
  • We're going to not spend too much time on this one. The songs were really good, The Mad Hatter was totally my type, Alice was adorable. Get the R Rated version. It's paced better.
  • A look into the REAL Alice. Alice Liddel, the inspiration for Alice. An older Alice is invited to America to celebrate Lewis Carrol, who is long dead, and she is haunted by visions from her past that include characters from Wonderland. The dream sequences feature creations from Jim Henson's Creature Shop who would later on lend their talents to the 1999 movie version of Alice in Wonderland. The movie doesn't delve too much into Lewis Carrol and Alice's relationship, but what it does touch upon is very sweet if not a little disturbing for modern audiences. Kind of reminded me of Finding Neverland.
I can't wait to add Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland to this list. That one I've been waiting for for awhile now. Until then, I got my list of Alice movies right here, and many more I left out :-)

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome article! You really know your Alice in Wonderland! Again, you should plan a weekend viewing of all of it!


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