Friday, May 13, 2011

Alice in Wonderland: Looking good 60 years later

Alice in Wonderland (animation, fantasy, family, musical)
Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske
Starring the voices of Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Holloway

Disney / Buena Vista | 1951 | 75 min | Rated G | Released Feb 01, 2011

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.32:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
French: DTS 5.1
Spanish: DTS 5.1

English SDH, French, Spanish

50GB Blu-ray Disc
DVD copy

The Film 4/5 (for its intended audience)

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland looks perfect on Blu-ray. The movie was nominated for one Oscar (best score) and contains a number of songs, as well as having a strong musical presence throughout.

Watching a classic Disney title is like stepping back in time. Compared to modern animation, the classics contain more warmth and less peril. There’s also considerably less action. The stories are full of wonder and revel in showing the viewer the setting. One common theme running through all of the titles is the friendly nature of animals and inanimate objects.

In Alice in Wonderland, all of the animals talk. You’ll also hear from flowers and a door knob. It’s a strange fantasy world inhabited by weird creatures. The adventure begins when Alice follows a white rabbit down a hole. She stumbles across such creatures as oysters, a walrus, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and an army of somewhat threatening playing cards.

Alice can change size by eating things in Wonderland. This can be helpful, but regularly causes her problems. Nothing is logical because it’s the stuff of dreams. Most of the creatures are friendly and well-meaning, but there are a few moments of danger when Alice encounters the Queen of Hearts.

The movie has a few too many songs for my particular taste, although it works perfectly as a family film. It’s not hard to see why the movie has enchanted children for the past 60 years as there’s always something interesting happening. For adults watching it alone, it won’t appeal to everyone in the way that perhaps a Pixar movie would. This is mainly aimed at children.

I found myself recognizing some of the voices. The Cheshire Cat was voiced by Sterling Holloway who also played Winnie the Pooh and Kaa the Snake in The Jungle Book. Kathryn Beaumont, who is still alive, voiced Wendy Darling in Peter Pan.

While the movie is a lot of fun, it lacks the heart and innocence of other early Disney classics such as Bambi or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. That said, it deserves a place in your library if you have young children. The colors, songs, memorable creatures and fast pace will hold the attention of most children.

Video Quality 5/5
Quite simply, the transfer couldn’t be better. The colors are bright and the image is clean. It looks like the characters were drawn yesterday. The only thing that makes the movie look dated is the style of the animation. It’s a lot flatter and lacks the three-dimensional appearance of modern Disney movies such as Bolt or the Pixar titles. Nobody will be disappointed with the appearance of this 60th anniversary Blu-ray edition.

Audio Quality 4.5/5
There are two English audio tracks included, along with French and Spanish tracks. One English track is a restored stereo version of the original soundtrack. My preferred version is the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Everything is clear, but the track is front-heavy. You will hear something from your rears, but it won’t match more recent releases. However, this is another fine upgrade over previous releases.

Special Features 5/5

There are over four hours of additional features, the best of which is the 76-minute Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland feature.

Deleted Materials includes 21 minutes of footage that didn’t make it into the film.

The remaining features include a song, an interactive game, TV specials and reflections on the film.

The Alice in Wonderland Blu-ray offers a huge jump in quality over previous releases of the film. Disney hasn’t disappointed me yet. Also included is a DVD version. It’s not the best of the classic Disney titles, but is worthy of being in any collection.


  1. Alice is my all-time favorite Disney heroine. She’s so charming and adorable, and Kathryn Beaumont portrayed her perfectly. Also, her bloomers (long frilly underwear) are very cute, and I just love the way her dress poofs up like a parachute. I love the part where she flips over as she waves goodbye to Dinah. And “In a World of My Own” is a very beautiful song I could listen to all day.

    1. Yes, she's definitely charming. Probably my favorite Disney heroine too.