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Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland
Actors: Mark Allington, Alan Bennett, John Bird, Wilfrid Brambell, Peter Cook
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
NR     2003     1hr 12min

Fans of Lewis Carroll's classic novel for children will be fascinated by this startling 1966 interpretation by Jonathan Miller, a noted British theater director. Influenced by surrealism and Victorian architecture, Mill...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Mark Allington, Alan Bennett, John Bird, Wilfrid Brambell, Peter Cook
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Classics, Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Science Fiction, Classics, Family Films, Fantasy
Studio: Homevision
Format: DVD - Black and White - Live
DVD Release Date: 11/18/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1966
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1966
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 12min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

C. M P. (selkie)
Reviewed on 1/12/2016...
This version of Alice is often described as dark or surreal. I do not think that of it, but it was strange that they made no effort at all to dress up as the animal characters---they were all just portrayed as people. So it did seem as if Alice had been dropped into an insane asylum, rather than chasing the rabbit down the rabbit-hole to a magical place (in this case the rabbit-hole was actually a tunnel that changed into a corridor in an abandoned house, to a museum type setting where she came across the "Dodo". And in most scenes she is talking to herself asking questions (as in the book), but she answers all her own questions! I was annoyed that the main scene with the Cheshire Cat was left out, not to mention that it was just a regular cat/no grin!

This DVD should be linked to UPC 883929099542 (which is the same 1966 movie with extra's ---refer to that UPC review for additional information/rating) and not UPC 617742220599 (which is the Alice in Wonderland Classic Film Collection: Alice in Wonderland/1915; Walt Disney's Alice's Adventures in Cartoonland/1925; Alice in Wonderland in Paris/1966; & Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/1972).

Movie Reviews

Curiouser and Curiouser...
jammer | Laramie, Wyoming United States | 01/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In Lewis Carroll's original work, Alice is a charming, witty and precocious 7-year old, engaging in sparkling point-counter-point exchanges with all manner of strange characters and situations as she wanders from one scene to another, not always predictably and not always to her liking or desire. This reviewer is unfamiliar with Victorian English society of the period, but surely these encounters are brilliantly realized satire, the animal characters selected to portray various characteristics of the nobility and commoners.So it should be no surprise that this low-budget (£32,000 and a 6-week shooting schedule) 72-minute BBC B&W production is done with all live actors, no animation, yet is faithful to the book. . Quoting from the enclosed folder, "...there was no script; Miller (the director) simply typed out the dialogue from Carroll's book each day and presented it to the cast on the set, and after a few rehearsals, they would do a take." Principal characters are portrayed in human form in Victorian period costume, making full utilization of the Tenniel illustrations where possible. For example, the white rabbit (Wilfred Brambell in an outstanding portrayal) is a fussily dressed, brisk-gaited English gentleman with pocket watch, top hat, braided uniform with tails, bow-tie, white gloves, and a white fan. Alice's dress and hair style is perfectly realized.Some of the key scenes are shortened. For example, the pool of tears leading to the caucus race (to dry off) was created by a giant Alice crying in frustration, not shown, so the sudden appearance of water is confusing. The recitation of Father Williams to the Caterpillar (an excellent Michael Redgrave) was regrettably truncated to only a verse or so. And when the Duchess throws Alice the squalling brat, it is not completely clear that the brat became a piglet only after she received it. Only someone thoroughly familiar with the original work would be able to fill in the blanks in such cases. Another aspect of this production is the use of voice-over whispered thoughts and recitations to convey various poems, conversations with the Cheshire Cat, or Alice speaking or musing in dream conversations where her lips don't move. One must strain very hard to pick up the gist of many of these whisperings (reviewing helps), which detracts from the viewing experience. Perhaps the audio recording equipment of that day wasn't up to the job. Or more likely the diction of the persons doing the voice-overs wasn't up to the task. Yet this reviewer finally realized on subsequent viewings and after being initially annoyed, that these whisperings are an innovative way of conveying in an efficient manner elements of the book not otherwise expressed. In retrospect and because of devices like this, a surprising amount of Carroll's original work survives.Among the best scenes are Peter Cook (superb!) as the Mad Hatter, and Leo McKern (absolutely fantastic as the Duchess!) with Avril Elgar (superb) as the Peppercook in the kitchen scene right out of the Tenniel drawings. Other characters include Michael Gough as the March Hare, Wilfred Lawson as the Dormouse, Peter Sellers as the King of Hearts, John Gielgud as the Mock Turtle, Malcolm Muggeridge as the Gryphon, John Bird as the frog footman (his performance gets progressively better with each viewing!), and a huge supporting cast of lesser players. Most characterizations are admirable, though the Queen of Hearts (Alison Leggatt, who does a pretty good job) was not quite the intimidating and threatening dominatrix this reviewer remembers. And the Cheshire Cat - alas - what a hokey disappointment! Why wasn't this crucial character portrayed by an actor just as all the other characters were?Yet all the brilliance of this cast is barely sufficient to rescue the production from its' major and near-fatal flaw. Regrettably the young actress playing Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) was not up to this most difficult central role, and almost succeeds in sinking the entire production. This Alice is by turns a snotty, sullen, blasé, and detached (11-year-old) girl. The director never seems to get enough of having interminable full-face close-ups of her filling the entire screen or major portions thereof, whose visage is devoid of expression or reaction and during which, little if anything else happens to advance the rest of the story. (Meanwhile all this precious screen time goes down the tubes when it could have been used so profitably elsewhere! Aarrgggghhhh!) Lewis Carroll, whose whole focus revolved around Alice, must surely have turned over in his grave. This work was done for BBC. Using color video-tape was rejected by the director because he felt B&W camera work would better simulate a daguerreotype atmosphere characteristic of the Victorian period. (This writer's opinion is that having the Wonderland portions in color with a younger and better considered Alice, and a better Cheshire Cat, would have made this production a major classic.) Repeated viewings led this reviewer to have a progressively higher regard. Indeed, this is THE definitive version! The excellence of the satire; the cleverness of the word-play; the care the director lavished on effects and his dedication to the letter and spirit of the original work; and the highly concentrated information density (when one is not viewing Alice's complexion, that is) make this a mandatory experience for mature Lewis Carroll fans and the mature intellectually curious person. (Others need not apply.)The DVD is well packaged in a quality case, with an enclosed three-page folder giving an interesting history of the production. Production values of picture and sound are exactly as the director intended. An optional informative voice-over commentary track by the director is also provided, as are an (un-previewed) still scene gallery and a 1903 film production."
A VERY odd version of Alice in Wonderland
Alan Olsen | Portland, OR USA | 10/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you are expecting a light cartoon version of Alice and Wonderland, you won't get it with this.This is one of the wierdest versions of the story I have seen yet. It is somewhere between a dream and a nightmare. The story flows like a dream where scenes jump from one spot to another in a sort of almost episodic flow. This version is also a satire of the British aristocracy and culture.This was made for the BBC as a Christmas special in 1966.The soundtrack is by Ravi Shankar. The cast is composed of some of the best known names of British comedy and theatre. Among the cast Peter Cook plays the Mad Hatter, Peter Sellers is the King of Hearts, But the real scene stealer is Leo McKern as the Duchess(!).All in all, this is a pretty dark version of the story. It is also one of the more "British".The British release also has an 8 minute silent version from 1903, director's comentary, production stills and cast bios. The American release may have more or less of these things."
Suddenly, my favorite
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 05/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the most complex movie rendering of Carroll's classic, and one of the stranger ones. It's a 1966 BBC production in black and white, and done on a shoestring budget. As a result, there's just about nothing in the way of special effects - and certainly no animal-shaped costumes for the dormouse, white rabbit, and all the others. Instead, the characters simply dress in a deliberately over-done Victorian style, probably put together by raiding the stock BBC costume closet.

But what characters! Peter Sellers (who played in other Alice movies as well) is the King of Hearts, Peter Cook is the Mad Hatter, Leo McKern is the Duchess(!), and that's just the start of this star-driven production. Ravi Shankar composed the music and performs much of it, giving an other-worldly sense that fits Carroll's dreamscape perfectly. It's a kind of dream continually on the edge of nightmare without ever quite crossing the line, the same feeling you get when watching "The Prisoner" TV series.

But Alice truly makes the story. Ann-Marie Mallik, in what may be her only acting role, was the perfect choice. She moves through the dream with all the reserve you'd expect of a browbeaten Victorian child, but with all the presence and a little insolence of a woman-child entering her teens. Although she's more observer than participant in most scenes, she conveys a quiet sense of being fully engaged in it all.

This isn't a disneyfied, silly production for children. Nor is it a surreal exaggeration like Jan Svankmajer's (which I also enjoyed). It's a serious and baffling work. In that sense, it's more true to Dodgson's original work than any other Alice I've seen. This one has my highest recommendation.