Based on Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice books, the 1951 animated adaptation by Walt Disney is perhaps the most well known. Journeying through a rabbit hole, Alice descends into a world of fantasy and surrealism and encounters many memorable characters on the way. As a much beloved Disney classic, Alice in Wonderland is without doubt one of the most “out there” films in the Disney back catalogue. With a large array of anthropomorphic animals, plants and bizarre animated objects the entire plot of the film is essentially nonsensical.
Even going as far out as having a story within a story (The Walrus and the Carpenter), the film is definitely ahead of it’s time. Nearly 2 decades before the rise of psychedelia, Alice does feel like a hallucinogenic trip infused with the most vibrant technicolor to date. Considering the Disney film that preceded Alice was Cinderella, a much more straight forward, linear and accessible story, it does seem like quite a shift.
All the unconventional eccentricities of the film aside, it’s still a fine example of pure Disney magic. With superb animation, music, sound and voice acting at the heart of the piece it’s definitely stood the test of time, and can be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages. With a constant stream of remakes, reboots and reimaginings over the years, the story is still as popular as ever. Despite the wide variety of versions, from a bleak, stop-motion, fantasy horror film from the Czech Republic released in the 1980’s to an all-star, mega-budget Hollywood blockbuster released earlier this year, I doubt the animated Disney classic will ever be topped.