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Alice in Wonderland is a 1951 American animated musical fantasy-comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Alice books by Lewis Carroll. The 13th of Disney's animated features, the film premiered in New York City and London on July 26, 1951. The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont as Alice, Bill Thompson as the White Rabbit, 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. However, he finally 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 theme song of the same name has since become a jazz standard. While the film was critically panned on its initial release, the movie proved to be ahead of its time and 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 one of the best film adaptations of Alice.

Plot

On a riverbank, Alice spots a White Rabbit in a waistcoat passing by, exclaiming that he is "late for a very important date". She gives chase, following him into a large rabbit hole. She sees him leave through a tiny door, whose speaking knob instructs her to shrink to an appropriate height by drinking from a bottle marked "Drink Me". She does so and floats out through the keyhole in a sea of her own tears, which she cried after eating a biscuit marked "Eat Me" caused her to grow very large. As she continues to follow the Rabbit, she meets numerous characters, including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, who recount the tale of "The Walrus and the Carpenter".

Alice tracks the Rabbit to his house; he sends her to retrieve his gloves after mistaking her for his housemaid. While searching for them, she eats another cookie marked “Eat Me” from his cookie canister and grows large again, getting stuck in the house. Thinking she is a monster, he brings the Dodo over to help him get rid of 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, and continues following him. Along the way, she meets a garden of talking flowers who initially welcome her with a song, but then mistake her for a weed and instruct her to leave, followed by a Caterpillar, who becomes enraged after she informs him she is distressed at her current height, as he is the same height, and turns into a butterfly. Before leaving, he instructs her to eat a piece of his mushroom to alter her size. She does so and manages to return to her original height, and continues following the Rabbit.

In the woods, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat, who instructs her to visit the Mad Hatter or the March Hare to find out where the Rabbit is. She encounters both, along with the Dormouse, at the Hare's house having a mad tea party and celebrating their "unbirthday". They celebrate her unbirthday too, but she becomes frustrated at them interrupting her every time she tries to speak. As she is above to leave, the Rabbit appears, continuing to exclaim that he is late; the Hatter examines his pocket watch and says it is "two days slow", and attempts to "fix" it by filling it with food and tea but ends up having to destroy it after it goes "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 go home, but her surroundings have completely changed and she gets lost. Fearing she is lost forever, she sits on a rock sobbing.

The Cheshire Cat reappears and instructs 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, and invites (or rather forces) Alice to play against her in a croquet match, in which live flamingos, card guards and hedgehogs are used as equipment. The animals and card guards rig the game in favor of the Queen. The Cat appears again and plays a trick on the Queen, causing her to fall over. She thinks Alice did it, and Alice is put on 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 frightened Dormouse runs around the courtroom. As the Queen angrily orders Alice’s execution, Alice eats the pieces 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 offends 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 she reaches the small door she encountered at the beginning of the film, he shows her that she is actually already outside, asleep. She wakes up and leaves the riverbank with her sister and Dinah to go home for tea.

Cast

Directing animators[5]

Production

Development

The history of Walt Disney's association with Lewis Carroll's Alice books (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass) stretches all the way back to his childhood. Like many children of the time he was familiar with the Alice books and had read them as a school boy.[6]

In 1923, when Disney was still a 21-year-old filmmaker trying to make a name for himself by 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 in 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.[7] However, Disney left for Hollywood and used the film as a sort of pilot 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 Disney Bros. Studios (later Walt Disney Productions).[7] The series began in 1924 before being retired in 1927.

In 1932, Disney began playing with the idea of making an animated feature film and repeatedly turned to the idea of making a feature-length animated/live-action version of Alice starring Mary Pickford, and even purchased the rights to Sir John Tenniel's illustrations (still under copyright at the time).[6][8] 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.[6] However, Disney did not completely abandon the idea of adapting Alice, and in 1936 made the Mickey Mouse cartoon Thru the Mirror.

In 1938, after the enormous success of Snow White, Disney revived the idea of making an Alice feature and officially registered the title Alice in Wonderland with the Motion Picture Association of America and hired storyboard artist Al Perkins and art director David S. Hall to develop the story and concept art for the film.[6] A storyreel was complete in 1939, but Walt was not pleased as 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.[6] Realising the amount of work needed for Alice in Wonderland, as well as the economic devastation of the World War II and the production demands of Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, Walt shelved production on Alice in Wonderland shortly after the screening.[8]

In 1945, shortly after the war ended, Disney once again revived Alice in Wonderland and assigned British author Aldous Huxley to re-write the script. However, Walt felt that Huxley's version was too much of a literal adaptation of Carroll's book.[8] Background artist Mary Blair submitted some concept drawings for Alice in Wonderland. Blair's paintings moved away from Tenniel's sketchy 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 to Carroll's book.[8]

Disney toyed with the idea of having a live-action/animated version of Alice in Wonderland (in a similar fashion to his Alice Comedies) that would star Ginger Rogers and would utilize the recently developed sodium vapor process.[9] Lisa Davis Waltz (who would later voice Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians) and Luana Patten were also considered for the role of Alice.[8][10] However, Walt soon realized that he could only do justice to the book by making an all-animated feature, and in 1946, work began on an all-animated version of Alice in Wonderland.[6]

Writing

Through various drafts of the script, many sequences that were present in Caroll's book drifted in and out of the story. However, Walt insisted that the scenes themselves keep close to those in the novel since most of its humor is in the writing.[6]

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 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 quick-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.[11] 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.[6] 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 of a caricature of Walt Disney. Although Walt liked the scene, he felt it was better if Alice learned her lesson by herself, hence the song "Very Good Advice".[6]

Other characters, such as The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon were discarded for pacing reasons.

Music

In an effort to retain some of Carroll's imaginative verses and poems, Disney commissioned top songwriters to compose songs built around them for use in the film. A record number of potential songs were written for the film, based on Carroll's verses—over 30—and many of them found a way into the film, if only for a few brief moments. Alice in Wonderland would boast the greatest number of songs included in any Disney film, but because some of them last for mere seconds (like "How Do You Do and Shake Hands", "We'll Smoke the Monster Out", "'Twas Brillig", "The Caucus Race", and others), this fact is frequently overlooked. The original song that Alice was to sing in the beginning was titled "Beyond the Laughing Sky". The song, like so many other dropped songs, was not used by the producers. However, the composition was kept and the lyrics were changed. It later became the title song for Peter Pan (which was in production at the same time), "The Second Star to the Right".

The title song, composed by Sammy Fain, has become a jazz standard, first adopted by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck; featured first in 1952, then on his 1957 Columbia album Dave Digs Disney.

Izumi Yukimura sang her own theme song for the Japanese release of the film.

The song, "In a World of My Own," is included on the orange disc of Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic.

Soundtrack

The film soundtrack was first released on LP record on July 28, 1951. The soundtrack was re-released on Audio CD by Walt Disney Records on February 3, 1998.[12]

Songs written for film but did not appear
  • "Beyond the Laughing Sky" – Alice (replaced by "In a World of My Own"; this melody was later used for "The Second Star to the Right" in Peter Pan)
  • "Dream Caravan" – Caterpillar (replaced by "A-E-I-O-U")
  • "I'm Odd" – Cheshire Cat (replaced by "'Twas Brillig")
  • "Beware the Jabberwock" – Chorus (Stan Freberg, Daws Butler, and the Rhythmaires), referring to deleted character
  • "So They Say" – Alice
  • "If You'll Believe in Me" – The Lion and The Unicorn (deleted characters)
  • "Beautiful Soup" – The Mock Turtle and The Gryphon (almost yet deleted characters) set to the tune of the Blue Danube (the Walt Disney company also used Blue Danube in the two cartoons, Jungle Rhythm and Night).
  • "Everything Has a Useness" – Meant for Caterpillar, in which he explains to Alice that everything has a purpose—in this case, the use of the mushroom.
  • "Curiosity" – unknown purpose
  • "Humpty Dumpty"
  • "Speak Roughly to Your Little Boy" – The Duchess (deleted character)
  • "Will You Join the Dance?"

Audio CD track listing

  1. "Main Title (Alice in Wonderland)"
  2. "Pay Attention/In a World of My Own"
  3. "I'm Late"
  4. "Curiosity Leads to Trouble/Simply Impassable"
  5. "The Sailor's Hornpipe/The Caucus Race"
  6. "We're Not Waxworks"
  7. "How D'Ye Do and Shake Hands/Curious?"
  8. "The Walrus and the Carpenter"
  9. "Old Father William"
  10. "Mary Ann!/A Lizard with a Ladder/We'll Smoke the Blighter Out"
  11. "The Garden/All in the Golden Afternoon"
  12. "What Genus Are You?"
  13. "A-E-I-O-U (Ray the Caterpillar Song/Who R U?)"
  14. "A Serpent!"
  15. "Alone Again/'Twas Brillig/Lose Something"
  16. "The Mad Tea Party/The Unbirthday Song"
  17. "The Tulgey Wood" (Music incomplete on audio CD)
  18. "Very Good Advice"
  19. "Whom Did You Expect"
  20. "Painting the Roses Red/March of the Cards"
  21. "Marie the Queen of Hearts/Who's Been Painting My Roses Red?"
  22. "A Little Girl/Let the Game Begin/I Warn You Child"
  23. "The Trial/The Unbirthday Song (Reprise)/Rule 42/Off with Her Head/The Caucus Race"

Media and merchandise

Stage version

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 South's "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.[13]

References in other Disney films

Theme parks

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. 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,[14] and Disneyland Paris also contains a hedge maze called Alice's Curious Labyrinth, which takes its inspiration from the film.[15] The now-defunct Mickey Mouse Revue, shown at Walt Disney World and later at Tokyo Disneyland, contained characters and scenes from the film.

Video games

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.[16] 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.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Alice in Wonderland: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  2. "ALICE IN WONDERLAND (U)". British Board of Film Classification. July 3, 1951. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  3. Magical Kingdoms
  4. http://voicechasers.com/database/showprod.php?prodid=56
  5. "A. Film L.A.".
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Through the Keyhole: A Companion's Guide to Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition, 2011 Blu-Ray
  7. 7.0 7.1 Barrier, Michael, 1999, Hollywood Cartons, Oxford University Press, United Kingdom
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Reflections on Alice, Alice in Wonderland: 50th Universary Edition, 2005 DVD
  9. Gabler, Neal, 2006, Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination, Alfred A. Knoff, New York City, USA
  10. UltimateDisney.com's Interview with Lisa Davis, the voice and model for 101 Dalmatians' Anita Radcliff
  11. Deleted Scene: The Pig and Pepper, Alice in Wonderland, 2011 Blu-Ray
  12. "Walt Disney's Alice In Wonderland: Classic Soundtrack Series: Sammy Fain, Bob Hilliard". Amazon.com. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  13. http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000277
  14. "Disneyland's Mad Tea Party Page". Archived from the original on June 20, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  15. "Disneyland Paris' Alice's Curious Labyrinth Page". Archived from the original on January 5, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  16. "Kingdom Hearts Official Page". Retrieved July 13, 2010.
v - e - dLewis Carroll's Alice
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland | Through the Looking-Glass | The Nursery "Alice" | The Hunting of the Snark
Characters
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice | White Rabbit | Dodo | Bill the Lizard | Caterpillar | Duchess | Cheshire Cat | March Hare | Hatter | Dormouse | Queen of Hearts | King of Hearts | Knave of Hearts | Gryphon | Mock Turtle
Through the Looking-Glass
Alice | Red Queen | White Queen | Red King | White King | White Knight | Tweedledum and Tweedledee | Sheep | Humpty Dumpty | Haigha | Hatta | The Lion and the Unicorn | Bandersnatch | Jubjub bird
Related topics
The Annotated Alice | Wonderland | Looking-glass world | Mischmasch | Works based on Alice in Wonderland (Films and television | Disney franchise) | Translations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland | Translations of Through the Looking-Glass
Adaptations
Poems
"All in the golden afternoon..." | "How Doth the Little Crocodile" | "The Mouse's Tale" | "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat" | "You Are Old, Father William" | "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster" | "Jabberwocky" | "The Walrus and the Carpenter" | "Haddocks' Eyes" | "The Mock Turtle's Song" | "The Hunting of the Snark"
Sequels
A New Alice in the Old Wonderland (1895) | New Adventures of Alice (1917) | Alice of Wonderland in Paris (1966) | Alice Through the Needle's Eye (1984) | Automated Alice (1996) | Wonderland Revisited and the Games Alice Played There (2009)
Retellings
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland retold in words of one syllable (1905) | Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland (2010)
Parodies
The Westminster Alice (1902) | Clara in Blunderland (1902) | Lost in Blunderland (1903) | John Bull's Adventures in the Fiscal Wonderland (1904) | Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream (1904)
Imitations
Davy and the Goblin (1884) | The Admiral's Caravan (1891) | Gladys in Grammarland (1896) | A New Wonderland (1898) | Rollo in Emblemland (1902) | Justnowland (1912) | Alice in Orchestralia (1925)
Reimagining
Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1966) | Alice or the Last Escapade (1977) | Dreamchild (1985) | Adventures in Wonderland (1991) | The Looking Glass Wars (2006) | Alice (2009) | Malice in Wonderland (2009) | Alice in Wonderland (2010) | Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Film
1903 | 1910 | 1915 | 1931 | 1933 | 1949 | 1951 | 1966 | 1972 | 1976 | 1982 | 1985 | 1987 | 1988 (Czechoslovak) | 1988 (Australian) | 1995 | 1999
Stage
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (ballet) | Alice in Wonderland (musical) | Alice in Wonderland (opera) | Peter and Alice (2013 play) | Wonder.land (musical)
Television
Fushigi no Kuni no Alice | Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Literary
Alice in Murderland | Alice in the Country of Hearts | Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
Video games
Alice no Paint Adventure (1995) | Alice in Wonderland (2000) | American McGee's Alice (2000) | Alice in Wonderland (2010) | Alice: Madness Returns (2011) | Disney Infinity (3.0)