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Friday, January 4, 2008

Alice in Wonderland (1951) and its effect on Me

I am here to discuss a film that has helped shape my imagination and my widdle psyche: Disney's animated classic Alice in Wonderland. This is a film I have loved ever since I was a little kid. Along with Fantasia, I would watch this nearly everyday. It just had an entirely different atmosphere than any other Disney I've ever come across (with the exception of The Nightmare Before Christmas). Out of all other Disney films, this is at the top of my list of favorites.

But why this particular film? What makes Alice so special to me that I would place above all else as Disney's greatest film? Well, for starters, it is more visually interesting than many other Disney films. The backgrounds and designs for Wonderland are some of the most fascinating work I have ever seen. You can obviously see the obvious influence of Mary Blair in both the looks and use of color.

Another reason for my praise is the amount of bizarre characters and other creatures in this movie. You can see amazing character designs (if a bit over Disneyfied)

You're never going to see a dog like this in Cinderella. However, you can see the Disney influence in the design in the fact that it has the exact same body as Pluto or maybe Bruno from Cinderella. However, it looks a lot cooler than both of them combined. You can also look at the entire Tulgey Wood scene and see all of the delightful bastard children of Mother Nature. Wonderful designs that have helped warp many people's imagination.

Another great aspect of this film was the incredible animation, particularly the scenes supervised by the wonderful Ward Kimball. In other films, it seems like Kimball is being held back and not allowed to be as crazy and innovative as he wanted to be. In this film, Lewis Carroll's world of illogical logic and satire allowed the puckish Kimball to let loose his amazing imagination. Take for example the wonderful "Tea Party" scene. The whole scene reeks of unadulterated hilarity. I just have to remember the line "There's only one way to stop a MAD WATCH!" and I start giggling like a little school girl.

Another reason why this is at the top of my list is because it doesn't contain what John K. calls "fake pathos", or it contains much less than other Disney films. It was a much more different type of story than "Snow White" or "Cinderella". It's not about good and evil, but the illogic of our world. I think that's why Walt considered it a failure. It was a story he didn't quite understand.

However, I have to say that my top reason for loving this movie so much is the title heroine. To me, she was the most human of the early Disney heroines. She wasn't a naive dimbulb like Snow White who just wished for things to happen. She made things happen, even if her curiosity did get her into more trouble than anticipated. She didn't need someone to rescue her. The type of story she got into allowed her to be an independent person. I always admired that since the women in my life were never demure or weak. They made things happen. Alice had a more defined personality than previous heroines.

Now, this is a little confession that I'm about to make. I had, or have a bit of an attraction to the character. She had such a cute design. Her blonde hair and blue eyes make me swoon (No, I'm not a Nazi). I had a storybook of this movie when I was a kid and I would just stare at pictures for hours, admiring her beauty. You can call me sick, but I'm not the only one. Just look at people on DeviantArt and you'll see what I mean. Besides, other people have had crushes on cartoon characters (Uncle Eddie, I'm talking to you about you and Ms. Olive Oyl).

One of the things that also attracted me to this character was her voice. Kathryn Beaumont did such a fantastic job. She fits the part of the proper, well-mannered English girl. She really nailed it with a bullseye.

This is the only way I've ever known Alice. I didn't read the book until just last year. The Disney Alice is the one that has implanted into my mind, for better or worse.

By the way, I have to mention his excellent comic I've found on the internet called "When Curiosity Meets Insanity" by Brianna Garcia and Rain. It deals with a romance between a grown up Disney Alice and the Mad Hatter (physically based on the one from Disneyland). It features a lot of other Disney characters. Excellent artwork and snappy writing make it a must-read. Check it out.

See y'all later

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Michael J. Ruocco said...

Nice post, Weirdo.

You're right about Alice. Out of all the other classic Disney heroines, I think Alice is a much more developed character, & I think that is what makes her so appealing. I have to admit, I was a bit attracted to her as well. It's common, especially for animators & cartoonists like ourselves. But more importantly, it shows that these characters are not just a bunch of drawings, but real people with feelings & emotions like any other actor or actress you see. In a way, it's one more reason that helps break the "prejudice barrier" between live-action & animation.

What really bothers me is when someone says they don't like a movie like Alice because of what critics say or what box-office performances show. Even though Alice was considered a "failure", there are people out there who pop in the movie, sit down & they watch, laugh & enjoy it. If somebody out there enjoys it, than it's a success.

Although Fantasia happens to be my favorite of Disney's films, Alice definitely has it's place somewhere.

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Oh, & I did read the comic. Great stuff. The story was great & the artwork was very appealing. Really draws the eye (wish I could draw like that).

Oh, & thanks for commenting on my blog. I'll be checking the blog from time to time, keep up the good word, Weirdo!