I have heard many criticisms laid against Disney's Alice in Wonderland by many critics, especially animation historians and critics. As some have read in one of my earlier posts, I feel that Alice is one of Disney's greatest triumphs. I shall do my best to defend my opinion.
Criticism #1: Alice is an unsympathetic character and lacks the heart of Snow White or Cinderella
Response: I find Alice to actually to be a bit more sympathetic than the other two Disney heroines. For one thing, Alice is a bit more realistic in her personality. She has her flaws, like how her curiosity overcomes her common sense, or her short temper. This allows her to participate in the story, not just fulfill the a story point. This is what I felt was one of the biggest weaknesses of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White was not a believable, or interesting, character, just a plot device to allow the story to move along. It is my opinion that if you got rid of Snow White and her Prince, you would have a much better movie. In Alice, the title character adds to the film. She is the counterbalance to all of the insanity, and she will often get herself into trouble, such as towards the end when she insulted the Queen of Hearts without being aware that she was shrinking. Alice's inattentiveness to her surroundings puts her danger, her own personality flaws, not that of her wicked stepmother (ooga-booga) or of the other characters.
Criticism #2: Alice in Wonderland is too episodic, it has no real plot to speak of.
Response: I think I'll let Wikipedia answer this one: "Disney's final version of Alice in Wonderland followed in the traditions of his feature films like Fantasia and The Three Caballeros in that Walt Disney intended for the visuals and the music to be the chief source of entertainment, as opposed to a tightly-constructed narrative like Snow White or Cinderella. Indeed, Lewis Carroll's Alice books have no real plot to speak of, and because of the literary complexity of Carroll's work, they are essentially unfilmable. Instead of trying to produce an animated "staged reading" of Carroll's books, Disney chose to focus on their whimsy and fantasy, using Carroll's prose as a beginning, not as an end unto itself."
Criticism #3: The film version contains none of Lewis Carroll's satire
Response: Most of the humor and satire comes from the narrative, not the characters themselves. Now, I'm pretty sure a narrator constantly relating all the events to the audience would be quite annoying after a short while. However, you can find pieces of satire in the film. First off, look at the scenes with the Dodo and Bill the Lizard. It can be as a semi-biting comment on how the aristocracy takes advantage of the working man. However, the shining example is the court scene at the end of the film. What was probably a sardonic take on the Victorian justice system takes on a whole new meaning in the early nineteen-fifties. I don't think I need to say anymore.
That's about all I got. If anyone would like to discuss, just drop me a line.
Until next time