Alice im Wunderland (1951)

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Alice im Wunderland: Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Jack Kinney. With Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Holloway. Alice stumbles into the world of Wonderland. Will she get home? Not if the Queen of Hearts has her way.

“Letu0026#39;s face it, there are moments in ALICE IN WONDERLAND that are absolutely dazzling, imaginative and as artistic as anything the Disney artists were capable of doing. And yet, for all its achievement in the art of animation, this Disney film has always drawn mixed notices. Perhaps part of the problem is there is seldom a letup in the zany goings-on–seldom a chance to draw a breath and rest between each overly imaginative episode. Then too, itu0026#39;s the episodic quality of the whole story structure that upsets some as well as the frantic cartoon movements of its weird characters.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eFaults and all, itu0026#39;s still a colorful event–probably one of the richest uses of color Disney ever attempted and with some wonderful styling in its background art. For me, a highlight of the film is the singing/talking flower sequence (u0026quot;Golden Afternoonu0026quot;) with its haughty flowers discussing Alice as if she was some kind of other worldly creature with funny looking stems. (It reminded me of the snooty elephants laughing and speaking with contempt of the new baby elephant in Dumbo). u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOther bits are equally brilliant–the shuffling army of cards in the Queen of Hearts episode; the baby oysters clothed in blue bonnets and pink dresses for the Walrus and the Carpenter; the droll humor in the Tweedledum/Tweedledee sequence; the smoking Caterpillar becoming irate when his three inches of height becomes the subject of conversation; and of course, the Mad Tea Party, full of hilarious slapstick and immensely aided by the voice talents of Bill Thompson (White Rabbit), Jerry Colonna (March Hare) and Ed Wynn (Mad Hatter). No less impressive is Verna Felton as the raucous voice of the Queen of Hearts in some of the filmu0026#39;s funniest moments. With her army of cards, she plays a wicked game of croquet with flamingoes as mallets, hedgehog as a ball and cards as hoops, all the while displaying a lethal temper.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDespite some brilliant animation, pleasant songs and gorgeous art work, itu0026#39;s just another example of how difficult it is (u0026quot;impassableu0026quot; to quote Carroll) to translate this particular tale to the screen and still remain faithful to the original. Others (many other versions, in fact) have failed–but Disney at least provides a sprightly, if frantic, version that has appeal for adults and children.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003ePerhaps because its surrealism matched the hippy culture of psychedelia, ALICE enjoyed a welcome theatrical return engagement in the u0026#39;60s and has become more respected in recent years (an American-made British fantasy popular even in the U.K.) as one of the studiou0026#39;s finest efforts.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIronically, one of its most delightful characters–the doorknob–never appeared in the book but was applauded everywhere as an inspired bit of business.”

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