Alice in Wonderland
Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Better than Average
8 to Adult
1 hr. 15 min.
Year of Release:
July 28, 1951
Review of “Alice in Wonderland” (2010)
Of more than a dozen film renditions of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and/or “Through the Looking-Glass,” this Disney version is probably the best known.
Alice is dissatisfied with boring, everyday life. She wishes for a fantasy world where nothing would be what it is, and everything would be what it isn’t. And by falling down a hole while chasing the mysterious White Rabbit, she soon gets her wish.
The scene at the Mad Hatter’s (Ed Wynn) tea party has to be one of the greatest examples on film of sheer nonsense comedy. Also worthy of mention are the Cheshire Cat (Sterling Holloway) sequences.
More disturbing are the deaths of humanized characters: the cute baby oysters that are eaten by the walrus (this sequence is sometimes cut from broadcast TV versions), and the domineering Queen of Hearts responding “off with their heads” to every minor annoyance. According to many sources, the original Carroll books were political commentary, written as fantasy to ensure that he didn’t lose HIS head.
There’s no occult/witchcraft content. But the caterpillar with the water pipe, the mushroom and other eats/drinks that make you grow bigger or smaller—some of these elements were later seen as symbolic of hallucinogenic drug use. Witness the Great Society/Jefferson Airplane drug song “White Rabbit,” whose lyrics in turn gave birth to the title of the 1973 drug film “Go Ask Alice”.
In the end, we see that Alice’s adventure was just a bad dream. The minimum appropriate age for children to watch this film would be when they can clearly tell fantasy from reality and won’t suffer from bad dreams themselves.