Alice in Wonderland (The Masterpiece Edition)

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Rating: G

Starring:
Kathryn Beaumont as Alice
Ed Wynn as Mad Hatter
Richard Haydn as Caterpillar
Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat
Jerry Colonna as March Hare
Verna Felton as Queen of Hearts
J. Pat O’Malley as Tweedle Dee/Tweedle Dum/The Walrus/The Carpenter
Bill Thompson as White Rabbit/Dodo
Heather Angel as Alice’s sister
Joseph Kearns as Doorknob
Larry Grey as Bill
Queenie Leonard as Bird in the Tree
Dink Trout as King of Hearts
Doris Lloyd as The Rose
James MacDonald as Dormouse

Special Features:
Disc 1:

Virtual Wonderland Party activities including riddles, silly song & dance, Teapot orchestra, Mad Hatter Says, and other games and stories

“Thru the Mirror” animated short with Mickey Mouse

“I’m Odd” never before heard song

2 Sing along songs

Set-top game

Disc 2:

“One Hour in Wonderland” documentary (60 mins.)

“An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland” featurette (8 mins.)

“Operation Wonderland” featurette (11 mins.)

Excerpt from “The Fred Warring Show” (30 mins.)

Deleted Material Featurettes: “From Wonderland to Never Land,” “Song Demos,” Deleted Storyboard Concept: Alice Daydreams in the Park”

Original Walt Disney TV introductions and trailers

Art galleries

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Original Theatrical Mono Soundtrack
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified
French and Spanish Language Tracks
Running Time: 75 Minutes

Synopsis:
This classic Disney movie is based on the novels by Lewis Carroll.

Alice is a young girl who loves to daydream. One afternoon she sees a talking White Rabbit go down a hole. Curious, she follows it. However, Alice tumbles down the hole into a strange new world called Wonderland. While there she meets strange creatures like the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, The Walrus, The Carpenter, and others. She also must confront the Queen of Hearts and her army of cards if she’s to find her way home.

Alice in Wonderland is rated G.

The Movie:
Alice in Wonderland reappears on DVD in Disney Masterpiece Edition. With a new remastered picture and soundtrack, the movie looks better than ever. However, purists can also bypass the THX Certified soundtrack in favor of the original Theatrical Mono Soundtrack.

Alice in Wonderland is kind of a trippy version of The Wizard of Oz. While the movie is definitely a Disney Classic, it’s not the best of the early animated films. Its character and songs don’t have quite the appeal of some of the other cartoons. The only two memorable songs are the White Rabbit’s “I’m Late!” song and “The Unbirthday Song”.

I showed Alice in Wonderland to my young children. They sat watching it enthralled, but when it was over they were done with it. They didn’t have any desire to see it again and they weren’t singing the songs like they did from other movies. That pretty much sums up my feelings on Alice in Wonderland. It’s required viewing at least once, but after that it doesn’t stand up as well compared to the other Disney animated films.

The Extras:
While Alice in Wonderland doesn’t have as many extras as some of the other Disney Masterpiece Editions, it still has more than enough to keep any Alice or Disney fan happy. Here are the highlights:

Virtual Wonderland Party – This is a live action show where a creepy looking guy dressed up as the Mad Hatter hosts a number of activities for small children. There are sing along songs, riddles, games, and other stuff. This tea party is quite long and will drive adults insane. Think of Barney or some other kids show but with Wonderland characters. Children will definitely enjoy it more, though my kid preferred to play the set top games rather than do this.

“Thru the Mirror” animated short with Mickey Mouse – This is the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon based on Alice in Wonderland. In this black and white short, Mickey walks through a mirror into a world full of cards and other Wonderland characters. It’s a classic that will make animation fans very happy.

“I’m Odd” never before heard song – This is the first of the deleted content. It is revealed for the first time on this DVD. In this song the Cheshire Cat sings about how odd he is. Only the sheet music was found for the song, so a new recording had to be made. Someone who sounded like the Cat (possibly Jim Cummings) sang the lyrics while modern music is played in the background. Various clips of the Cat are shown from the movie. It’s a great addition, but the song isn’t catchy or memorable. The modern sounding music also doesn’t fit the rest of the movie. They should have tried to get a 1950′s sound for it.

Sing Along Songs – There are two songs from the movie that you can watch and have the words play on the screen. They are “The Unbirthday Song” and “All in the Golden Afternoon”. This is a pretty standard addition to Disney musicals these days.

Set-top game – The set top game consists of three parts. The first is a game where you answer trivia questions and pick objects which match the answers. The second part has you do a Memory-type card game and match card soldiers. In the third part you must arrange three cookies in order to get through the door. Kids will enjoy it and adults may even find it a little challenging. Once you beat the game, the opening song from Alice in Wonderland plays.

“One Hour in Wonderland” documentary – This one hour special from the 1950′s is quite a trip back in time. It starts out with an advertisement for Coca-Cola. We then see Edgar Bergen doing his ventriloquist act with this dummy as he tours the Disney Studios. He meets Walt, the kid actors, and others at a party. Periodically through the show they stop everything for a break where they start drinking Coca Cola (as they often did in the days before commercials). The Magic Mirror then takes viewers through a series of clips featuring Disney cartoons. We see Pluto cartoons, clips from Snow White, and even The Song of the South. We’re treated to Uncle Remus singing Zipedee Doo Dah and a story about Brer Rabbit. All in all it’s quite a collection of Disney history all in a one hour special. While it’s not all Alice in Wonderland focused, it’s still quite a trip back in time.

“An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland” featurette – This is one of Walt Disney’s earliest cartoons. It’s a black and white silent film. A little girl visits the animation studios where she meets Walt Disney. She sees cartoons come to life on the page. That night she goes home and dreams that she’s in the cartoons themselves. She faces lions and other various cartoon characters from Wonderland. It’s one of the first times that live action footage interacted with cartoons. It’s quite an animation treasure and a special feature of this DVD.

“Operation Wonderland” featurette – This is a behind the scenes featurette from 1951. In it, Walt Disney gives a tour of the studio and shows each of the steps of the animation process. You see voice recording, film references for characters, animating, shooting animation cels, etc. It all comes together in a brief, though informative look at the making of the film. This, too, is in black and white.

Excerpt from “The Fred Warring Show” – This was a musical variety show from the 1950′s. (I must admit I’ve never heard of it.) On this show they introduce the characters from Wonderland and the original voice actors sing some of the songs from the film while in costume. We are treated to performances by Kathryn Beaumont as Alice and Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat. It’s all in black and white, of course, and it’s quite long.

Deleted Material Featurettes – Several deleted scenes are included on the DVD. The first is “From Wonderland to Never Land”. In this video we learn how the opening song from Peter Pan was originally intended for Alice in Wonderland. The tune is the same but the words were changed as the music switched films. It turns out that there were dozens of songs written for Alice in Wonderland, the most of which never were used. The surviving recordings are included on the DVD for you to listen to in “Song Demos”. Finally there’s an alternate opening to the movie where Alice daydreams in the park. You get to see the Deleted Storyboard Concept in this final feature.

The Bottom Line:
Alice in Wonderland isn’t the best of the Disney animated films, but it is still required viewing for anyone who hasn’t seen it before. The extras on the DVD will thrill fans of animation and Disney. Overall, a nice addition to the Disney Masterpiece collection.

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