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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Cast:
Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Holloway, Jerry Colonna, Verna Felton, J. Pat O'Malley, Bill Thompson
Writing Credits:
Lewis Carroll (novels: "The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland", "Through the Looking Glass"), Winston Hibler, Ted Sears, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Milt Banta, William Cottrell, Dick Kelsey, Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Del Connell, Tom Oreb, John Walbridge

Tagline:
A Great Disney Classic!

Synopsis:
Walt Disney's Beloved Masterpiece Makes Its Breathtaking Blu-ray Debut!

Experience the magic and majesty of Alice In Wonderland with the ultimate collector's dream. For the first time, Walt Disney's timeless classic bursts into brilliance in Blu-ray Hi Definition! Featuring Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix, this remarkable digital restoration boasts pristine sound and unparalleled picture quality. Plus, fascinating bonus features including "Through The Keyhole: A Companion's Guide To Wonderland" and an exciting interactive game, "Painting The Roses Red", have been specifically designed for this landmark release.

Join Alice as she chases the White Rabbit and journeys into a topsy-turvy world that gets "curiouser and curiouser" as her fantastical adventures unfold. Meet the Mad Hatter, March Hare, Tweedledee & Tweedledum, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and more unforgettable characters, all set against a backdrop of awe-inspiring splendor.

Filled with spectacular songs and animation, this 2-disc 60th Anniversary celebration of Alice In Wonderland is more wondrous than you ever could have imagined!

Box Office:
Budget
$3 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA Enhanced Home Theater Mix 5.1
English Monaural
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 2/1/2011

Bonus:
Disc One
• “Thru the Mirror” Short
• “I’m Odd” Newly Discovered Cheshire Cat Song
• “One Hour in Wonderland” Program
• “Alice’s Wonderland” Alice Comedy
• Trailers
• Walt Disney’s TV Introductions
• “Operation Wonderland” Featurette
• “The Fred Waring Show” Excerpt
• Deleted Materials
• Art Galleries
• “Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland” Picture-in-Picture Feature
• Reference Footage: Alice and the Doorknob
• Pencil Test
• “Painting the Roses Red” Game
• Sneak Peeks
Disc Two
• DVD Copy of the Film


PURCHASE @ AMAZON

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] (1951)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 21, 2011)

Over the years, 1951’s Alice In Wonderland developed a reputation as one of the weaker Disney animated features. Not only do I disagree with the negative assessments, but also I find it to be one of Disney's best films. Alice differs from the typical fare, which may be one reason for its less-than-welcome reception, but that's part of the reason I like it so much.

Because I never read the Lewis Carroll books, I can't provide a direct comparison of how well Disney adapted the tales. Frankly, I believe such examinations are fairly useless in most cases. I don't care if a movie perfectly resembles its source or if it seems radically different; I judge the film on its own, not how well it duplicates other material.

Nonetheless, I believe many of the criticisms of Alice stem from the fact that Disney did too much to tame the books' anarchic spirit. That said, the movie stands as one of Disney's most irreverent and least "heart-warming" films, at least for the era. I honestly think it seems ahead of its time in that it presented a more daring and glib exterior than we'd see until more recent pictures like Aladdin or Hercules.

Is Alice consistently and completely successful in this regard? No, but it works more often than it doesn't. Some criticism - even from Walt himself - has been leveled at the character of Alice because she's a fairly cold and distant girl; she lacks the warmth and charm of other Disney heroines. Personally, I liked that fact. I don't want to see 100 characters who are all variations on the others. At the root, Alice really isn't much of a character; like many Disney protagonists, she's more of a spectator in her story than she is an active participant. However, it felt refreshing to have a character who seemed a bit cold and selfish; too much perfection gets old.

I also was mildly happy to see a film that really didn't try to teach us many lessons. Throughout her adventure, Alice makes mistakes and gets into all sorts of predicaments, but she doesn't seem to learn much from these. If anything, the movie serves as an anti-lesson; Alice finds that she can fall into many binds but still emerge fine, as the whole thing was just a dream. One gets the feeling that after this fantasy, Alice hasn't changed one iota.

Don't get me wrong: I think that movies that feature morals or lessons are a positive thing. But every once in a while, it's nice to find one that doesn't tattoo us with "ways to live". Alice says that there are a lot of weird people in the world, you won't figure them out most of the time, but keep on trucking! Or something like that.

Maybe I'm dense and I missed all sorts of lessons, but I find that Alice is more of an expression of the randomness of life. Not everything comes wrapped in a neat little bow, and Alice discovers this through the wildly inconsistent world she experiences. Rules make little sense and they change rapidly; you can try to figure them out, but you probably won't succeed. Just do your best and things will probably work out fine in the end.

I'm officially babbling now, so I'll stop my theories on the "meaning" of Alice, other than to say I don't think it really has one. In any case, it works very well, as it packs in more diverse, clever and funny characters than probably any other Disney film. Surprisingly, however, it never seems like overkill. That's because it usually gives us the character, has some fun, then moves on to the next. Yes, some - like the Cheshire Cat or the mysterious White Rabbit - reappear from time to time, but even in those cases they remain in the background on later occasions; never do they wear out their welcomes.

Alice doesn't provide the best animation Disney has to offer, but I think the film provides a pleasing visual look. It differs from the classic appearance we associate with the Carroll books, but it really needed to do this or else the comparisons would have been even more withering. The movie probably could have looked less "cute", though in a perverse way, the sweet look of the characters makes their oddness stand out even more.

Ultimately, I don't know how well Alice In Wonderland stands up to analysis, and if I were better acquainted with the original stories I may indeed find it less satisfying. At the current time, however, I really like the film. Alice provides an unusual and very entertaining Disney experience.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B/ Bonus A

Alice In Wonderland appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. At all times, this was a terrific presentation.

Sharpness seemed consistently strong, as most of the picture appeared nicely crisp and well-defined. On a few occasions, I encountered some very mild softness during wide shots – usually ones connected to the extra complexity of the multi-plane camera - but this remained infrequent and minor. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I detected no problems in this clean presentation.

Colors appeared bold and vibrant. During shots with colored lighting, the hues threatened to become a little heavy, but this never occurred. Instead, the colors were vivid and full. Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and shadow detail was fine. Contrast was solid as well, as whites were pure and clean. I found it hard to believe that Alice came out 60 years ago, as the image looked tremendous.

Although the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Alice In Wonderland occasionally showed its age, it seemed pretty solid given the constraints of the era. The soundfield opened things up in a general way but didn’t do much to reinvent its monaural wheel. While it broadened some effects to the side and rear channels and also added music around the room, nothing especially dynamic occurred. The manner in which the elements spread to the other speakers gave the track some breadth but not a great deal of specificity. This meant the multichannel mix added some involvement but didn’t really bring a lot of concise material to the table.

Audio quality seemed more than fine for its age. Considering the era, speech sounded pretty natural and firm. The lines were slightly thin but not in the least bad given the circumstances of the period. They lacked any edginess and were consistently crisp and intelligible. Music failed to demonstrate great range but seemed acceptably smooth and clear. I wouldn’t call the score and songs rich or vibrant, but they seemed reasonably distinctive for material from 1951.

Effects followed suit and sounded clean but unexceptional. I noticed no significant distortion and thought they represented the original audio well. Bass response mostly seemed modest but acceptable for the era. The mix seemed above average for its age.

How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare to the 2004 DVD? The audio tracks differed but I wouldn’t say the new mix improved on its predecessor. The DTS version was broader and more engulfing, but that didn’t necessarily make it better. Frankly, I’d rather stick with the original monaural, which also appeared here.

Visuals presented a clearer picture, as they were a big step up over the DVD. I thought the 2004 disc looked good but it couldn’t compete with the tightness and vivacity on display here. The Blu-ray provided a substantial improvement in picture quality.

Most of the 2004 DVD’s extras repeat here, and we get a few new components. I’ll note 2010 components with special blue print.

Oddly, the “Classic DVD Bonus Features” area includes some pieces not found on earlier Alice releases. We get Reflections on Alice, a 13-minute, 27-second featurette that offers notes from Disney historians Stacia Martin, Paula Sigma, Lella F. Smith and Charles Solomon, actor Kathryn Beaumont, filmmaker Eric Goldberg, “Alice Authority” Matt Crandall, animators Andreas Deja and Frank Thomas, Imagineering Senior VP Tony Baxter and storyboard artist Floyd Norman. We get a look at the origins of the Alice stories and how they came to the screen. We hear a lot of this info elsewhere, but this is still a tight little take on the topics.

An archival component comes with I’m Odd, a “newly-discovered Cheshire Cat song”. Voice actor Kathryn Beaumont discusses some elements of the movie’s musical numbers and tells us about “I’m Odd”, a song replaced by “Twas Brillig”. This isn’t an actual deleted scene, and the performance comes from a new recording with an actor whose voices resembles Sterling Holloway’s; we don’t get anything done back in the Fifties. Nonetheless, it’s moderately interesting to hear this lost bit of the production.

Also found on the Mickey Mouse In Living Color DVD, Thru the Mirror provides a short from 1936. In this fairly surreal cartoon, we get a piece obviously influenced by the work of Lewis Carroll. The short works well.

Now we move to One Hour in Wonderland, Walt Disney’s first attempt at a television program. Aired in 1950, this 59-minute and 22-second show stars Edgar Bergen and his puppets Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd along with Walt and Kathryn Beaumont. The program also includes guest appearances from actor Bobby Driscoll and Hans Conreid as the Magic Mirror. The latter character becomes the focus of the show; the guests make requests that he grants. Not surprisingly, these consist mainly of movie clips; we see 1937’s Mickey, Donald and Goofy short “Clock Cleaners”, a Pluto short for which I don’t know the name, plus parts of Snow White, Song of the South, and Alice. We also get a performance from the Firehouse Five Plus Two, the jazz band of Disney artists.

Most of “Wonderland” comes in black and white, but the movie clips appear in color. The show seems pretty complete, as it even includes the amusingly tacky Coca-Cola commercials that were integrated into the program; it’s a kick to hear the Magic Mirror espouse the wonders of Coke. Despite its reliance on film snippets, “Wonderland” is a fun piece of history.

We go way back for the next component, an “Alice Comedy” from 1923 called Alice’s Wonderland. Disney made his first dent on the industry with these silent combinations of live action and animation. This eight-minute and six-second short presents a very young Walt with actress Virginia Davis as she sees artists create animation and then dreams about similar escapades. It’s not very entertaining almost 90 years later, but it’s a great historical element to see.

More archival materials arrive with Operation Wonderland, an 11-minute and eight-second TV clip from 1951. Although it's little more than a primitive version of today's featurettes - otherwise known as "glorified trailers" - I enjoyed the piece simply because it provides a little behind-the-scenes action from the Disney studios of the early Fifties. Walt leads us through some rudiments of the production. The best parts show Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna and Kathryn Beaumont as they act out a scene as models for the artists. The emphasis remains largely promotional in this program and much of the running time consists of movie clips, but it's quite entertaining nonetheless.

We remain in 1951 with an excerpt from The Fred Waring Show. Aired on March 18, 1951, this 30-minute and 55-second piece promotes Alice via a few different sequences. First Walt chats about the flick and shows us a snippet. Then we get a live-action recreation of some songs. Mostly these feature anonymous actors in the various roles, but Beaumont shows up as Alice and Sterling Holloway reprises the Cheshire Cat. Waring also chats a little with Beaumont and Holloway about their work on the film and shows another clip. Objectively, it’s fairly lame – at least while we watch the live-action presentation - but it remains an intriguing piece of historical material.

Two trailers appear. We get the ad for the movie’s original release in 1951 plus another for a 1974 reissue. We also get two Walt Disney TV Introductions. One comes from 1954, while the other stems from 1964. Both of these lead in to TV airings of Alice. The first lasts 80 seconds, while the second runs 69 seconds. Actually, despite the variation in length, they’re very similar, and they offer another cool addition to the set.

A few components pop up in the “Deleted Materials” domain. Hosted by Kathryn Beaumont, From Wonderland to Neverland: The Evolution of a Song provides a six-minute and 49-second featurette. It follows “Beyond the Laughing Sky”, a number originally intended for Alice, as it transmogrified into “The Second Star to the Right” from Peter Pan. We then hear two demos of “Sky” accompanied by concept art for Alice. It’s an interesting examination of an alternate possibility.

Next we find a Deleted Storyboard Concept called “Alice Daydreams in the Park”. Filmed as a running piece, this lasts 121 seconds. We see sketches accompanied by music that depict an alternate vision of the flick’s opening. It’s not as compelling as the unused song, but it’s worth a look.

Speaking of music, this domain ends with Original Song Demos. These include rough versions of “Beware the Jabberwock”, “Everything Has a Useness”, “So They Say”, “Beautiful Soup”, “Dream Caravan”, and “If You’ll Believe In Me”. The quality sometimes seems rough, but it’s very interesting to hear these early musical concepts, especially since a few involve characters who don’t appear in the final film.

We also get a deleted scene called “Pig and Pepper”. Hosted by filmmakers Ron Musker and John Clements, it lasts three minutes, 12 seconds. Clements and Musker act out the sequence’s dialogue as we see art. I’m not sure why this isn’t another “deleted storyboard concept” – “deleted scene” implies a higher level of completion than this – but it’s still a nice addition.

To finish the “Classic DVD Bonus Features”, we head to the Interactive Art Gallery. This presents 81 stills. They include concept art, character designs, photos from the production, and promotional art. It’s a useful collection with an interesting interface option: while you can zoom through the images via thumbnails or one long batch of sequential pictures, you can also access an index that lets you jump to images of many specific characters/situations. Want to just see the Mad Hatter? The gallery will isolate those elements for you. Cool!

With that, we head to new Blu-ray materials. (Well, BD exclusives; the fresh components above also appear on the 2010 Wonderland DVD, which I guess is why they go under “Classic DVD Bonus Features”.) Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland offers a picture-in-picture piece. During this extra, we hear from film historians Charles Solomon, Paula Sigman and Brian Sibley, Victorian literature expert Morton Cohen, former Disney Imagineer Daniel Singer, animator/story artist Will Finn, and animation art historian/conservator Ron Barbagallo. We learn about author Lewis Carroll and aspects of the Alice tales, Walt Disney’s experiences with the books and their adaptation for the screen, and many aspects of the 1951 film’s production.

This essentially ends up as an “audio commentary plus”. The information follows standard commentary guidelines, but the format adds lots of art and photos. Those elements give us a reason to watch “Keyhole”, though you’ll do fine if you choose to stick with the audio on its own; it’s nice to see the visual bits, but the remarks from the participants remain the big attraction. They deliver a high level of information and make this a fast-moving and effective examination of the subject.

Reference Footage shows live-action shots created for the film. The reel lasts one-minute, 33 seconds and shows “Alice and the Doorknob”. We see Beaumont act out the sequence on a stage and can view the piece two different ways. The main option shows the live footage along with movie audio and animation to show the doorknob’s side of the scene. The other option sticks solely with the live scenes and adds commentary from Beaumont. Both are good ways to check out this valuable addition.

After this we get Pencil Tests for “Alice Shrinks”. This 54-second piece lets us see a very short example of early work for the film. It’s brief but enjoyable as an archival piece.

Under “Family Play”, we locate a Walt Disney Color TV Introduction. It fills one minute, 15 seconds with Disney’s lead-in for a 1964 Christmas-era airing of Alice. It’s another positive addition to the package.

A game called Painting the Roses Red comes next. It offers a strategy game that can be a challenge. It’s certainly more interesting than the usual

The disc opens with ads for Winnie the Pooh and Bambi. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promots for SpookyBuddies: The Curse of the Howlloween Hound, Tangled, The Incredibles, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Dumbo and Disney Parks.

On Disc Two, we get a DVD Copy of the film. This is the same disc available commercially, and it offers some extras not found on the Blu-ray. already appeared on the 2004 DVD but didn’t make the Blu cut, I guess. Aimed squarely at the kiddies, this presents a mix of interactive activities. Live-action actors portray Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit as they join some moppets in videotaped escapades. The performers sing and play games. I guess kids in the audience are supposed to join in, but it seems like they’ll mostly just watch, as many of the activities don’t really include a lot of participation.

Another DVD component originally from the 2004 set appears via the Adventures in Wonderland set-top game. This involves three areas. The first presents some fairly easy riddles, while the other two throw annoying and random guessing contests at us. The reward if you finish it? A clip from the movie! No thanks – if I want to watch it, I’ll just go to chapter search. “Adventures” is a tiresome waste of time.

I'm in the minority, but I find Alice in Wonderland to be a very entertaining Disney film. It's funnier and quirkier than most, especially for its era. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture quality along with solid sound and a very nice complement of supplements. Without question, the Blu-ray becomes the best home video version of this enjoyable flick.

To rate this film please visit the Masterpiece Edition review of ALICE IN WONDERLAND

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main