Written by: Lewis Carroll
Voices by: Richard Haydn, Ed Wynn, Kathryn Beaumont, Sterling Holloway, Bill Thompson
Finally, the original 1951 animated classic Alice in Wonderland is available on Blu Ray. Doesn’t that make you happy? Let’s explore,
The film opens as Alice (Kathryn Beaumont) is listening to her sister read from, in her opinion, an extremely boring book. Her mind drifts. She begins to glide into a dream world. She sees the White Rabbit (Bill Thompson) frantically checking his pocket watch and she decides to follow him. She grabs her pet kitten and follows him down the “rabbit hole”.
After reaching the bottom of the hole, that is when things become progressively stranger for the young Alice. There are talking doorknobs. She drinks a liquid and becomes small. She eats a cookie and grows so large that her head hits the ceiling.
She meets talking birds, strange twin brothers Tweedledum and Tweedledee, a strange grinning cat called Cheshire (Sterling Holloway) and if that wasn’t strange enough, a hookah-smoking caterpillar that later turns into a butterfly.
Pretty trippy, right?
It isn’t long before she is meeting the Queen of Hearts and the King threatens her with a trial and may be put to death. Alice has to find a way out of this surreal world and fast. Will she survive?
Reader, you may have noticed that I gave an abbreviated version of the classic story. I trust that you all know this story.
While there have been countless retellings of this story, this one is one of my favorites. Despite the film being produced by Disney, the classic story still has lots of Carroll’s “possibly” drug induced weirdness filling every frame of the film. Disney borrowed from Carroll’s original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for this outing. Some are not fans of this film because it is not 100% loyal to the source material, rather, choosing a “loose” Disney adaptation from several of Carroll’s work. I happen to like this version, so I don’t have a rant to share here about it.
And even though I consider myself a big Tim Burton fan, I prefer this version to his most recent re-imagining of the story.
And if you are avoiding this Disney version of this story because of the fear of encountering never ending musical sequences, those are kept to a bare minimum, so go forth bravely.
So, Lewis Carroll fans: enjoy. Disney fans: this one is a no brainer for you; it’s probably on your shelf before I got this review written.
The film is presented in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer at aspect ratio of 1.33:1. There are no blemishes or artifacts. The contrast level is respectable and the color palette is admirably vibrant. The black levels are pitch-black and the overall transfer is first rate.
The film is presented in DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio. The dialogue is crystal clear and mixed well with the soundtrack. The overall sound is a bit “dated”, but considering the age of the film, it is forgivable.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The films are presented in a standard blu ray amaray case encased in a cardboard slipcase with a nice picture of Miss Alice on the cover.
There is a plethora of bonus material offered in this release, so let’s dig in.
Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland is a 76 minute retrospective on the film with interviews with Disney historians, employees, animators, artists and many more. The actor that provided the voice of Alice introduces this feature, and also introduces a live action reference footage featurette and pencil test.
Also offered are Walt Disney Color TV Introduction, Painting the Roses Game, Reflections on Alice and Operation Wonderland.
There is also a newly discovered Cheshire Cat Song and an intro, Thru the Mirror Mickey Mouse Animated Short and One Hour in Wonderland.
Alice in Wonderland fans are going to enjoy An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland, the original Theatrical trailers, Walt Disney TV Introduction, and excerpt from the Fred Waring Show.
And finally, Deleted materials and an interactive art gallery.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Film 7/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 10/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 10/10
Overall ( Not an Average) 9/10