Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Title: Alice in Wonderland
Release Date: July 26, 1951
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are among my favorite books of all time, and I’ve yet to see it translated into a film adaptation that captures the books’ whimsy and imagination.  I’ve kept my distance from the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movies because they just look to be commercialized, CGI-laden horror shows, but Disney animators did make a good crack at the story in 1951. Animation lends itself to Alice in Wonderland since it allows for the disorienting visuals while still keeping to a storybook premise.  There are some segments of this film that are real treats, such as Alice falling down the rabbit hole, the Mad Tea Party, the very Disney-esque talking doorknob, and the Cheshire Cat.  But overall the movie is very episodic and doesn’t have much flow.  It’s also lacking in heart.  The biggest problem is that none of the character of Alice carries over from the book, so she ends up just being a girl reacting to the mad things around her, and sometimes she just seems left out of the story entirely.  Someday a film adaptation will be made that does Carroll’s Alice stories justice, and it will probably be animated, but until then this serves as good attempt, but deeply flawed.

Rating: **