Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland is in a category all of its own. Disney’s spectacular vision and range is showcased in his 13th animated feature. With a little help from the Lewis Carroll series for which it was adapted from, this film’s surrealism makes for a completely unique entry in the Disney pantheon. It’s like the black sheep. To this day, they haven’t made another one like it.
The story isn’t one in the linear sense, but more of a compendium of unrelated series of events. But they all lead to a common goal.
Alice, herself, has some radical ideals when it comes to the world around her, and faces hostility from the adults in her life. But she learns her imagination is mild in comparison to the oddities of Wonderland. She ventures off to this magical world, only to discover she isn’t very welcome. She has a terrible time and no one wants her to be there. And at moments, she finds herself questioning the silliness of the realm, appropriating her mindset to that of her closed-minded mother back home.
The depth of Alice is deeper than most realize. It’s subtle, but her attitude is brilliant commentary on contrasting our own independent philosophies with those that we’re raised on.
Surprisingly, the film is not as dated as you would think. Some of the humor holds up well compared to today’s standards.
Considering the very short runtime, the songs are in abundance and create a high ratio to the non-singing scenes. And naturally, there are one or two weaker tunes, but most of them are ear-worm classics.
At 75 minutes, we spend enough time in Wonderland to warrant a complete story. Or collection of events. Alice in Wonderland is meant to be episodic. And it’s very dark and deranged at times, too. While many people find that those things make the movie harder to warm up to, it’s actually part of what makes it one of my favorite Disney films from the Walt era. An underrated piece of cinema.