|Alice in Wonderland|
1951 original theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Based on||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass|
by Lewis Carroll
|Music by||Oliver Wallace|
|Edited by||Lloyd Richardson|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Box office||$5.6 million (US, 1951)|
Alice in Wonderland is a 1951 American animated musical fantasy-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Alice books by Lewis Carroll. The thirteenth release of Disney's animated features, the film premiered in London on July 26, 1951, and in New York City on July 28, 1951. The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont as Alice, Sterling Holloway as the Cheshire Cat, Verna Felton as the Queen of Hearts, and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter. Walt Disney first attempted unsuccessfully to adapt Alice into an animated feature film during the 1930s, and he revived the idea in the 1940s. The film was originally intended to be a live-action/animated film; however, Disney decided to make it an all-animated feature in 1946.
The film was considered a disappointment on its initial release, leading to Walt Disney showing it on television as one of the first episodes of his TV series Disneyland. It proved to be very successful on television, especially during the psychedelic era. It was eventually re-released in theaters which proved to be massively successful. The film became even more successful through merchandising and subsequent home video releases.
While the film was critically panned on its initial release, it has since been regarded as one of Disney's greatest animated classics, notably one of the biggest cult classics in the animation medium, as well as the best film adaptation of Alice.
A live-action adaptation of Carroll's works and the animated film, Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton, was released in 2010. A sequel to the film, Alice Through the Looking Glass, directed by James Bobin, was released in 2016.
Alice becomes bored with her sister's history lesson on the Norman conquest of England and expresses her want of adventure, leading her to a riverbank. There, Alice spots a passing White Rabbit in a waistcoat, exclaiming that he is "late for a significant date." She gives chase, following him into a large hole. She sees him leave through a tiny door, whose talking knob advises her to shrink to an appropriate height by drinking from a bottle marked "Drink Me." She does so and floats out through the keyhole into a sea of her own tears, which she had cried after eating a biscuit marked "Eat Me," which caused her to grow very large. As she continues to follow the Rabbit, she encounters numerous characters, including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, who recount the tale of "The Walrus and the Carpenter."
Alice tracks the Rabbit to his house; he mistakes her for his housemaid, "Mary Ann," and sends her to retrieve his gloves. While searching for the gloves in the Rabbit's house, Alice finds and eats another cookie marked "Eat Me" and grows large again, getting stuck in the house. Thinking her a monster, the Rabbit asks the Dodo to help expel her. When the Dodo decides to burn the house down, Alice escapes by eating a carrot from the Rabbit's garden, which causes her to shrink to three inches tall. Continuing to follow the Rabbit, Alice meets a garden of talking flowers who initially welcome her with a song, but then make disparaging comments about her appearance and order her to leave. Alice then encounters a Caterpillar, who becomes enraged at Alice after she laments her small size (which is the same as the Caterpillar's), after which the Caterpillar turns into a butterfly and flies away. Before leaving, the Caterpillar advises Alice to eat a piece of a mushroom to alter her size. She does so and returns to her original height, continuing her chase of the Rabbit.
In the woods, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat, who advises her to visit the Mad Hatter or the March Hare to learn the Rabbit's location. She encounters both, along with the Dormouse, at the Hare's house having a mad tea party and celebrating their "unbirthdays." The Hatter and the Hare ask Alice to explain her predicament, to which Alice tries but becomes frustrated by their interruptions and absurd logic. As she prepares to leave, the Rabbit appears, continuing to exclaim that he is late; the Hatter examines the Rabbit's pocket watch and says it is "two days slow," and attempts to "fix" it by filling it with food and tea and ends up destroying it after declaring it "mad." The Rabbit laments that his watch was an "unbirthday present," and the Hatter and Hare sing "The Unbirthday Song" to him before throwing him back into the woods. Fed up with the nonsense, Alice decides to return home, but her surroundings completely change, and she gets lost. Fearing she is lost forever, she sits on a rock sobbing.
The Cheshire Cat reappears and advises Alice to ask the Queen of Hearts for directions home, showing her a "shortcut" to the King and tyrannical Queen's castle. The Queen orders the beheading of a trio of playing card gardeners who mistakenly planted white roses instead of red ones (but paint them to make them look red), and forces Alice to play against her in a croquet match, in which live flamingos, card guards, and hedgehogs are used as equipment. The equipment rig the game in favor of the Queen. The Cat appears again and plays a trick on the Queen, causing her to fall over. The Cat disappears in time to make it look like Alice was the prankster, but before the Queen can order her execution, the King suggests a trial.
At Alice's trial, the Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse are called to the stand as witnesses, briefly celebrating the Queen's unbirthday and giving her a headpiece as a present, which turns into the Cat. Chaos ensues when the Dormouse, frightened when Alice points out the Cat, runs around the courtroom. As the Queen orders Alice's execution, Alice eats a piece of the Caterpillar's mushroom she saved and grows large again. The King and Queen order her to leave the courthouse, but she refuses and insults the Queen. As she does so, she returns to her normal size, and the Queen orders her execution. Alice flees, and the Queen, King, card guards, and other characters give chase. When Alice reaches the small door she encountered, the doorknob shows her that she is actually already outside, asleep. Alice yells at herself to wake up; she does, thanks to her sister and they return home for tea.
Directing animators are:
In 1923, he was a 21-year-old aspiring filmmaker working at the Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, making the unsuccessful short cartoon series by the name of Newman Laugh-O-Grams. The last of Newman Laugh-O-Grams was called Alice's Wonderland, which was loosely inspired by the Alice books. The short featured a live-action girl (Virginia Davis) interacting with an animated world. Faced with business problems, however, the Laugh-O-Gram Studio went bankrupt in July 1923, and the film was never released to the general public. However, Disney left for Hollywood and used the film to show to potential distributors. Margaret J. Winkler of Winkler Pictures agreed to distribute the Alice Comedies, and Disney partnered with his older brother Roy O. Disney and re-hired Kansas City co-workers including Ub Iwerks, Rudolph Ising, Friz Freleng, Carman Maxwell and Hugh Harman to form the Disney Brothers Studios, which was later re-branded Walt Disney Productions. The series began in 1924 before being retired in 1927.
In 1933, Disney considered making a feature-length animated-and-live-action version of Alice starring Mary Pickford. However, these plans were eventually scrapped in favor of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, mainly because Disney was put off by Paramount's 1933 live-action adaptation Alice in Wonderland. However, Disney did not completely abandon the idea of adapting Alice, and in 1936 he made the Mickey Mouse cartoon Thru the Mirror.
In 1938, after the enormous success of Snow White, Disney bought the film rights of Alice in Wonderland with Sir John Tenniel's illustrations, and officially registered the title with the Motion Picture Association of America. He then hired storyboard artist Al Perkins and art director David S. Hall to develop the story and concept art for the film. A story reel was completed in 1939, but Disney was not pleased; he felt that Hall's drawings resembled Tenniel's drawings too closely, making them too difficult to animate, and that the overall tone of Perkins' script was too grotesque and dark. Realizing the amount of work needed for Alice in Wonderland, and with the economic devastation of World War II and the production demands of Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, Disney shelved production on Alice in Wonderland shortly after the screening.
In fall 1945, shortly after the war ended, Disney revived Alice in Wonderland and hired British author Aldous Huxley to re-write the script. Huxley devised a story in which Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell (the inspiration for Alice) were misunderstood and persecuted following the book's publication. In Huxley's story, stage actress Ellen Terry was sympathetic to both Carroll and Liddell, and Queen Victoria served as the deus ex machina, validating Carroll due to her appreciation for the book. Disney considered child actress Margaret O'Brien for the title role. However, he felt that Huxley's version was too literal an adaptation of Carroll's book.Background artist Mary Blair submitted some concept drawings for Alice in Wonderland. Blair's paintings moved away from Tenniel's detailed illustrations by taking a modernist stance, using bold and unreal colors. Walt liked Blair's designs, and the script was re-written to focus on comedy, music, and the whimsical side of Carroll's books.
Around this time, Disney considered making a live-action-and-animated version of Alice in Wonderland (similar to his short Alice Comedies) that would star Ginger Rogers and would utilize the recently developed sodium vapor process.Lisa Davis (who later voiced Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians) and Luana Patten were also considered for the role of Alice. However, Disney soon realized that he could do justice to the book only by making an all-animated feature, and in 1946 work began on Alice in Wonderland. With the film tentatively scheduled for release in 1950, animation crews on Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella effectively competed against each other to see which film would finish first. By early 1948, Cinderella had progressed further than Alice in Wonderland.
A legal dispute with Dallas Bower's 1949 film version was also under way. Disney sued to prevent release of the British version in the U.S., and the case was extensively covered in Time magazine. The company that released the British version accused Disney of trying to exploit their film by releasing its version at virtually the same time.
Through various drafts of the script, many sequences that were present in Carroll's book drifted in and out of the story. However, Disney insisted that the scenes themselves keep close to those in the novel since most of its humor is in the writing.
One omitted scene from the 1939 treatment of the film occurred outside the Duchess' manor, where the Fish Footman is giving a message to the Frog Footman to take to the Duchess, saying that she is invited to play croquet with the Queen of Hearts. Alice overhears this and sneaks into the kitchen of the manor, where she finds the Duchess' Cook maniacally cooking and the Duchess nursing her baby. The cook is spraying pepper all over the room, causing the Duchess and Alice to sneeze and the baby to cry. After a quick conversation between Alice and the Duchess, the hot-tempered Cook starts throwing pots and pans at the noisy baby. Alice rescues the baby, but as she leaves the house the baby turns into a pig and runs away. The scene was scrapped for pacing reasons.
Another scene that was deleted from a later draft occurred in Tulgey Wood, where Alice encountered what appeared to be a sinister-looking Jabberwock hiding in the dark, before revealing himself as a comical-looking dragon-like beast with bells and factory whistles on his head. A song, "Beware the Jabberwock", was also written. However, the scene was scrapped in favor of The Walrus and the Carpenter poem. Out of a desire to keep the Jabberwocky poem in the film, it was made to replace an original song for the Cheshire Cat, "I'm Odd".
Another deleted scene in Tulgey Wood shows Alice consulting with The White Knight, who was meant to be somewhat a caricature of Walt Disney. Although Disney liked the scene, he felt it was better if Alice learned her lesson by herself, hence the song "Very Good Advice".
In an effort to retain some of Carroll's imaginative poems, Disney commissioned top songwriters to compose songs built around them for use in the film. Over 30 potential songs were written, and many of them were included in the film--some for only a few seconds--the greatest number of songs of any Disney film. In 1939, Frank Churchill was assigned to compose songs, and they were accompanied by a story reel featuring artwork from David S. Hall. Although none of his songs were used in the finished film, the melody for "Lobster Quadrille" was used for the song "Never Smile at a Crocodile" in Peter Pan. When work on Alice resumed in 1946, Tin Pan Alley songwriters Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston began composing songs for it after working on Cinderella. However, the only song by the trio that made it into the film was "The Unbirthday Song".
While he was composing songs in New York, Sammy Fain had heard that the Disney studios wanted him to compose songs for Alice in Wonderland. He also suggested lyricist Bob Hilliard as his collaborator. The two wrote two unused songs for the film, "Beyond the Laughing Sky" and "I'm Odd". The music for the former song was kept but the lyrics were changed, and it later became the title song for Peter Pan, "The Second Star to the Right". By April 1950, Fain and Hilliard had finished composing songs for the film.
|Alice in Wonderland|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||February 3, 1998|
|Genre||Animation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Musical|
|1.||"Main Title ("Alice in Wonderland")"||The Judd Conlon Chorus||2:32|
|2.||"Pay Attention/ In a World of My Own"||Oliver Wallace; Kathryn Beaumont||2:12|
|3.||"I'm Late"||Bill Thompson||0:42|
|4.||"Curiosity Leads to Trouble/ Simply Impassable"||Oliver Wallace||4:02|
|5.||"The Sailor's Hornpipe/ The Caucus Race"||Bill Thompson and The Rhythmaires & the Judd Conlon Chorus||2:27|
|6.||"We're Not Waxworks"||Oliver Wallace||0:25|
|7.||"How D'Ye Do and Shake Hands/Curious?"||J. Pat O'Malley||0:55|
|8.||"The Walrus and the Carpenter"||J. Pat O'Malley||5:05|
|9.||"Old Father William"||J. Pat O'Malley||0:23|
|10.||"Mary Ann! / A Lizard with a Ladder/ We'll Smoke the Blighter Out"||Oliver Wallace; Bill Thompson||2:42|
|11.||"The Garden /All in the Golden Afternoon"||Chorus and Kathryn Beaumont||3:39|
|12.||"What Genus Are You?"||Oliver Wallace||1:14|
|13.||"A-E-I-O-U (The Caterpillar Song)/ Who R U/ How Doth the Little Crocodile / Keep Your Temper"||Richard Haydn||4:34|
|14.||"A Serpent!"||Oliver Wallace||1:09|
|15.||"Alone Again/ 'Twas Brillig/ Lose Something"||Oliver Wallace; Sterling Holloway||2:30|
|16.||"The Mad Tea Party/ The Unbirthday Song"||Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna, and Jimmy MacDonald||4:31|
|17.||"The Tulgey Wood"||Oliver Wallace||2:02|
|18.||"Very Good Advice"||Kathryn Beaumont||2:09|
|19.||"Whom Did You Expect"||Oliver Wallace||0:53|
|20.||"Painting the Roses Red/ March of the Cards"||The Mellomen and Kathryn Beaumont||2:48|
|21.||"The Queen of Hearts/ Who's Been Painting My Roses Red?"||Verna Felton||1:22|
|22.||"A Little Girl/ Let the Game Begin/ I Warn You Child"||Oliver Wallace||1:27|
|23.||"The Trial/ The Unbirthday Song (Reprise)/ Rule 42/ Off with Her Head/ The Caucus Race (Reprise)"||Kathryn Beaumont, Verna Felton, Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna, and the Judd Conlon Chorus||5:59|
Alice in Wonderland premiered at the Leicester Square Theatre in London on July 26, 1951. During the film's initial theatrical run, the film was released as a double feature with the True-Life Adventures documentary short, Nature's Half Acre. Following the film's initial lukewarm reception, it was never re-released theatrically in Disney's lifetime, instead being shown occasionally on television. Alice in Wonderland aired as the second episode of the Walt Disney's Disneyland television series on ABC on November 3, 1954, in a severely edited version cut down to less than an hour.
Beginning in 1971, the film was screened in several sold-out venues at college campuses, becoming the most rented film in some cities. Then, in 1974, Disney gave Alice in Wonderland its first theatrical re-release. The company even promoted it as a film in tune with the "psychedelic times", using radio commercials featuring the song "White Rabbit" performed by Jefferson Airplane. This release was so successful that it warranted a subsequent re-release in 1981. Its first UK re-release was on July 26, 1979.
Disney sought to use the new medium of television to help advertise Alice in Wonderland. In March 1950, he spoke to his brother Roy about launching a television program featuring the studio's animated shorts. Roy agreed, and later that summer they spoke to the Coca-Cola Company about sponsoring an hour-long Christmas broadcast featuring Disney hosting several cartoons and a scene from the upcoming film. The program became One Hour in Wonderland, which was aired on NBC on Christmas Day 1950. At the same time, a ten-minute featurette about the making of the film, Operation: Wonderland, was produced and screened in theaters and on television stations. Additionally, Disney, Kathryn Beaumont, and Sterling Holloway appeared on The Fred Waring Show on March 18, 1951, to promote the film.
Alice in Wonderland was one of the first titles available for the rental market on VHS and Beta and for retail sale on RCA's short-lived CED Videodisc format. The film was released on October 15, 1981, on VHS, CED Videodisc, and Betamax and again on May 28, 1986, on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc.
In January 2000, Walt Disney Home Video launched the Gold Classic Collection, with Alice in Wonderland re-released on VHS and DVD on July 4, 2000. The DVD contained the Operation: Wonderland featurette, several sing-a-long videos, a storybook, a trivia game, and its theatrical trailer.
A fully restored two-disc "Masterpiece Edition" was released on January 27, 2004, including the full hour-long episode of the Disney television show with Kathryn Beaumont, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, Bobby Driscoll and others that promoted the film, computer games, deleted scenes, songs and related materials, which was discontinued in January 2009. Disney released a 2-disc special "Un-Anniversary" edition DVD on March 30, 2010, in order to promote the recent Tim Burton version. The film was released in a Blu-ray and DVD set on February 1, 2011, to celebrate its 60th anniversary, featuring a new HD restoration of the movie and many bonus features. Disney re-released the film on Blu-ray and DVD on April 26, 2016, to celebrate the film's 65th anniversary.
During its initial theatrical run, the film grossed $2.4 million in domestic rentals. Because of the film's production budget of $3 million, the studio wrote off a million-dollar loss. During its theatrical re-release in 1974, the film grossed $3.5 million in domestic rentals.
Bosley Crowther, reviewing for The New York Times, complimented that "...if you are not too particular about the images of Carroll and Tenniel, if you are high on Disney whimsey and if you'll take a somewhat slow, uneven pace, you should find this picture entertaining. Especially should it be for the kids, who are not so demanding of fidelity as are their moms and dads. A few of the episodes are dandy, such as the mad tea party and the caucus race; the music is tuneful and sugary and the color is excellent."Variety wrote that the film "has an earnest charm and a chimerical beauty that best shows off the Carroll fantasy. However, it has not been able to add any real heart or warmth, ingredients missing from the two tomes and which have always been an integral part of the previous Disney feature cartoons."
Mae Tinee of the Chicago Tribune wrote that "While the Disney figures do resemble John Tenniel's famous sketches, they abound in energy but are utterly lacking in enchantment, and seem more closely related to Pluto, the clumsy pup, than the products of Carroll's imagination. Youngsters probably will find it a likable cartoon, full of lively characters, with Alice's dream bedecked with just a touch of nightmare--those who cherish the old story as I have probably will be distinctly disappointed."Time stated that "Judged simply as the latest in the long, popular line of Disney cartoons, Alice lacks a developed story line, which the studio's continuity experts, for all their freedom with scissors and paste, have been unable to put together out of the episodic books. Much of it is familiar stuff; Carroll's garden of live flowers prompts Disney to revive the style of his Silly Symphonies. Yet there is plenty to delight youngsters, and there are flashes of cartooning ingenuity that should appeal to grownups."
Alice in Wonderland was met with great criticism from Carroll fans, as well as from British film and literary critics, who accused Disney of "Americanizing" a great work of English literature. Walt Disney was not surprised by the critical reception to Alice in Wonderland--his version of Alice was intended for large family audiences, not literary critics--but despite all the long years of thought and effort Disney invested in it, the film met with a lukewarm response at the box office and was a sharp disappointment in its initial release. Additionally, he remarked that the film failed because it lacked heart. In The Disney Films, Leonard Maltin says that animator Ward Kimball felt the film failed because "it suffered from too many cooks--directors. Here was a case of five directors each trying to top the other guy and make his sequence the biggest and craziest in the show. This had a self-canceling effect on the final product." Since the film's revival in the 1970s, critics have re-evaluated the film and it has since been considered a classic.
On the film aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Alice in Wonderland received an approval rating of 81% from 31 critical reviews with an average rating of 6.37/10. The consensus states, "A good introduction to Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice in Wonderland boasts some of the Disney canon's most surreal and twisted images."
Alice in Wonderland has been condensed into a one-act stage version entitled, Alice in Wonderland, Jr. The stage version is solely meant for middle and high school productions and includes the majority of the film's songs and others including Song of the Souths "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", two new reprises of "I'm Late!", and three new numbers entitled "Ocean of Tears", "Simon Says", and "Who Are You?" respectively. This 60-80 minute version is licensed by Music Theatre International in the Broadway, Jr. Collection along with other Disney Theatrical shows such as Disney's Aladdin, Jr., Disney's Mulan, Jr., Beauty and the Beast, Disney's High School Musical: On Stage!, Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, and many more.
A live-action re-imagining, Alice in Wonderland, was released in 2010, starring Mia Wasikowska as Alice. It was directed by Tim Burton and received mixed reviews, but grossed over $1 billion. A sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, was released in 2016 to generally negative reviews and a $299 million gross on a $170 million budget.
Costumed versions of Alice, The Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit, The Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum, and Tweedledee make regular appearances at the Disney theme parks and resorts, and other characters from the film (including the Walrus and the March Hare) have featured in the theme parks, although quite rarely. Disneyland features a ride-through visit to Wonderland onboard a Caterpillar-shaped ride vehicle; this adventure is unique to Disneyland and has not been reproduced at Disney's other parks. More famously, all five Disneyland-style theme parks feature Mad Tea Party, a teacups ride based on Disney's adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
Alice in Wonderland is also frequently featured in many parades and shows in the Disney Theme Parks, including The Main Street Electrical Parade, SpectroMagic, Fantasmic!, Dreamlights, The Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party and Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams. Disneyland contains a dark ride based on the film in addition to the teacups, and Disneyland Paris also contains a hedge maze called Alice's Curious Labyrinth, which takes its inspiration from the film. The now-defunct Mickey Mouse Revue, shown at Walt Disney World and later at Tokyo Disneyland, contained characters and scenes from the film.
In Disney's Villains' Revenge, the Queen of Hearts is one of the villains who tries to turn the ending to her story to where she finally cuts off Alice's head. Mickey Mousecapade features various characters from the film. The Japanese version, in fact, is based very heavily on the film, with almost every reference in the game coming from the film.
A video game version of the film was released on Game Boy Color by Nintendo of America on October 4, 2000, in North America. Additionally, in the video games Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Wonderland is a playable world. Alice is also a major character in the overall plot of the first game due to her role as one of seven "Princesses of Heart". Other characters from the movie that appear include the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Doorknob, the Caterpillar (V Cast only), and the Deck of Cards. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare appear in portrait form as well. All except the Doorknob also appear in Chain of Memories, albeit in the form of illusions made from the main character's memory. While the world is absent in Kingdom Hearts II, it returns in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts coded, the latter featuring a digitized version of the world originating from data in Jiminy Cricket's royal journal.
In Toy Story 3: The Video Game, the Mad Hatter's hat is one of the hats you can have the townsfolk wear. In Kinect Disneyland Adventures, Alice, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, and the Queen of Hearts make appearances.
In Disney Infinity, there are power discs based on Alice in Wonderland.
Several characters of the movie make appearances throughout the Epic Mickey-games. For example, the cards are seen throughout Mickeyjunk Mountain in the original Epic Mickey, Alice appears as a statue carrying a projector screen in Epic Mickey 2 and Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts appear as unlockable characters in Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.