Alice In Wonderland (1951)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 1/9/06
Cast: Kathryn Beaumont

Walt Disney takes a huge risk in trying to capture the madcap lunacy of Lewis Carrol's classical nonsense, but the results are fairly cohesive and entertaining. Alice (a delightful Kathryn Beaumont) is a young girl who prefers daydreaming to studying, and her wandering mind leads her on a chase to find a mysterious white rabbit with a stopwatch. As she goes further down the rabbit hole, reality completely unravels and Alice finds herself lost in a world of farce and madness. She ultimately ends up in the company of the dreaded Queen Of Hearts and has to make a desperate escape in order to save herself from the Queen's unhealthy obsession with decapitation.

As you would expect from a Disney production, the animation is superb, although it favors abstraction and surrealism over detail and realism. The film is viewed through the eyes of madness, and Alice's frustration with the insane inhabitants of Wonderland is all too real. However, Alice's gentle and proper reactions to everything around her helps keep the audience at ease in an otherwise truly frightening situation. Kathryn Beaumont does an excellent job with the character of Alice, bringing youth, vitality, curiosity, innocence, manners, and morals to the proceedings. Definitely a performance from an age gone by, as you could never get away with such a character today. The musical numbers are uninteresting for the most part and simply reflect Lewis Carrol's original writing. Perhaps the film's greatest achievement is that it manages to engage the audience for a full seventy-five minutes, without any plot, character development, or resolution. Such is the power of well made eye candy.