Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Alice in Wonderland [1951]

US Animated Movie (1951). Disney. Pr sv Ben Sharpsteen. Dir Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske. Special processes Ub Iwerks. Based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll. Voice actors Kathryn Beaumont (Alice), Jerry Colonna (March Hare), Verna Felton (Queen of Hearts), Sterling Holloway (Cheshire Cat), Joseph Kearns (Doorknob), Jim Macdonald (Dormouse), J Pat O'Malley (Walrus, Carpenter, Tweedledum, Tweedledee), Bill Thompson (White Rabbit, Dodo), Ed Wynn (Mad Hatter). 75 mins. Colour.

Cast in the form of a series of Dream incidents, most based on Carroll's book, AIW is among the least-liked of the Disney animated features. The mismatch between Disney's style and Carroll's might have been rendered less jarring had Walt Disney not attempted to ride roughshod over the original (the introduction of a major new character, a wacky Doorknob, is disastrous), chosen to regard Carroll's book as merely a children's story, and selected some of the voices with astonishing insensitivity. Isolated moments of fine fantasy are drowned in the general mess. As with Fantasia (1940), AIW's Surrealism led to a surge in its popularity during the 1960s, when hippies interpreted the Caterpillar and its toadstool in terms of Hallucination-inducing recreational drugs.

Decades earlier, Walt Disney and Iwerks had borrowed Carroll's notion for almost their first excursion into Animated Movies: the series of 57 b/w shorts called the Alice Comedies (1924-1927; Alice's Wonderland made 1923 but not properly released). In these a live-action girl ventured into an animated land of fantasy.

Other movies based on Carroll's novel include: Alice in Wonderland (1933), a live-action version in which the cast wore Masks based on the Tenniel illustrations; Alice in Wonderland (1951) dir Dallas Bower and Lou Bunin, a live-action/puppet version that was completely eclipsed by the Disney feature, but which is now becoming more widely appreciated thanks to video release; The Adventures of Alice (1960 tvm), a live-action version; Alice (1965 tvm), which was Dennis Potter's first interpretation and was concerned more with the relationship between Carroll/Dodgson and Alice Liddell (see Dreamchild [1985]); Alice in Wonderland (1966 tvm) dir Jonathan Miller, a hauntingly effective live-action version; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972), a rather dull live-action version with a plethora of star actors; Alice in Wonderland (1985 tvm), an epic based on both the Alice books; and Alice (1988). Alice in Wonderland (1976) is non-fantasy soft porn; Through the Looking Glass (1976) is also soft porn but is a fantasy, although unconnected with Carroll's (see Pornographic Fantasy Movies). [JG]

see also: Alice Through the Looking Glass (1960 tvm).

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.