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DVD Review: "Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition"

By It's My Life on February 11, 2011 12:34 PM | No TrackBacks

Where do you go when you dream?  Is it some completely random place you don't recognize at all, or is it a land made up of some combo of the people, places and things from your real life? Do you hang out with your crush? Your teachers? Your favorite celebs? Are things basically the same as in the daytime, or are they weird, warped and wild?

AliceInWonderland60thAnnBlurayCombo.jpgPoet and novelist Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) thought, and wrote, a lot about dreamscapes. His two most famous books, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass," read a lot like dreams themselves, following a curious girl through strange and spectacular realms that get "curiouser and curiouser" the deeper she goes. Animals, plants, and even objects like playing cards become bizarre and funny characters, often poking fun at human follies and emotions. The books made Carroll rich and world-famous, and continue to be huge sellers around the globe more than 100 years after they were first published.

Given the fantastic source material, Walt Disney had his work cut out for him in adapting Carroll's stories to the screen. But feature animation, it turns out, is the perfect way to bring Carroll's dreamy writing to visual life, and the Disney version of "Alice on Wonderland" went on to be a huge hit and a timeless treasure of fantasy filmmaking.

Disney has just re-released Alice in a 60th anniversary Blu-ray and DVD package, complete with the fully restored feature and a nice selection of extras, including a thought-provoking behind-the-scenes documentary.

Our Favorite Things:

The girl power. Alice is no shy thing. Anyone who jumps into a seemingly bottomless hole just to follow a white rabbit has got some guts, and she seems unruffled by most of Wonderland's challenges. She says what she thinks, asks for what she wants, and can be pretty resourceful when necessary. Considering this movie was made in the era of Disney princesses that didn't do much more than look gorgeous and sing to cute little animals, Alice is one of animation's first steps towards a more "modern" character.

The colors. We were lucky enough to see this new 60th anniversary release on Blu-ray disc, and TBH, it looks awesome. From the very opening scene in the flowery English countryside, the colors seem to just pop off the screen with bright, dazzling lusciousness. We'd bet that even original movie audiences back in 1951 (yeah, we're prolly talking 'bout your grandparents) didn't see an Alice this pristine and colorful.

The voices. From Kathryn Beaumont as the sweet but befuddled title character to Ed Wynn as the maddest of all Mad Hatters, AIW has what is possibly the best line-up of voice actors in animation history. Our absolute favorites are Bill Thompson (the marble-mouthed White Rabbit), Verna Felton (the hot-headed Queen of Hearts), and Sterling Holloway (the other-worldly Cheshire Cat). Disney fans will surely recognize Holloway's voice; he was Kaa the hypnotic snake in "The Jungle Book," as well as the voice of "Winnie the Pooh."

teaparty.jpgThe Mad Tea Party. This scene isn't just a great bit of cartooning, it's an expertly-choreographed routine of slapstick comedy. It's the craziest moment in a crazy story, and we also give it props as the inspiration for one of our favorite theme park rides (gotta love those spinning teacups...unless you get motion-sick, of course). A very merry unbirthday to you!

The Walrus and the Carpenter. Alice experts might know that this story is taken not from "Wonderland," but "Through the Looking Glass," but we love that it's in this movie, because it's just so twisted and weird.  The baby oysters are so adorably cute in their little bonnet-shells and then...well, we won't spoil it, because, well...nobody likes spoiled oysters, right? Let's just say that it's funny, but also a bit creepy.

If you're a fan of the recent Tim Burton version of this story, you might enjoy seeing the original film treatment. And as is usually the case with these animated classics, it's a great Family Movie Night choice because your little sibs will probably enjoy it as much as your parents (and even grandparents).

IML's Rating: A-

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