Alice In Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland (1951)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Halloway
Extras: Featurette, Sing-Alongs, Read-Along Storybook, Trivia Game, Theatrical Trailer

’Alice in Wonderland’ is Walt Disney’s wonderfully animated interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story. Released almost 50 years ago, ’Alice’ exhibits all the energy, wonder, and beauty common to Disney’s earliest animated films.

Alice is a young daydreamer, taking her history lessons in the forest, when she spies a white rabbit who is late…for a very important date. Following him to a burrow, she falls down a dark hole and finds herself at the entrance to Wonderland. Opening this door takes her into a world where anything is possible and she soon meets up with a whole host of bizarre characters — including such favorites as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts.

’Alice in Wonderland’ is presented in its original full-frame version and the quality of the transfer is top-notch. Colors are as vibrant as the characters they illustrate and even the rare faded shot or two can’t detract from this very beautiful picture.

The audio is advertised as a DD 5.0 mix although for all intents and purposes the sound is firmly anchored to the center speaker with some ambient music and effects spreading to the sides — and even less to the rear speakers. But the mix is nice and clean with very little hiss and is probably as good as it gets for a film this old.

Fans of the Disney Gold Collection DVDs are accustomed to the extra features being rather sparse. Surprisingly, ’Alice’ has a fair number of very entertaining supplements. Chief among these is the short featurette, ’Operation Wonderland’ hosted by singer James Melton. Offering a behind the scenes look at the making of the film, this feature provides a rare glimpse at the Walt Disney Studio as it was when Uncle Walt himself was in charge — complete with a mini-railroad to carry the man from place to place. The DVD also provides two entertaining sing-alongs, a fun read-along storybook, an interactive trivia game, and a theatrical trailer.

’Alice in Wonderland’ is a wonderful film that delights viewers both young and old. The animation is very different from the typical Disney fare of that time period and this frenzied style imbues the film with a degree of energy that really makes the characters come to life. It’s only fitting that the surreal Tea Cup ride at Disney World was inspired by this very off-the-wall classic!