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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Alice in Wonderland- 1951

Going home for the family New Years party gave me a great opportunity to raid the VHS cabinet for some childhood classics. One of my acquisitions was the animated "Alice in Wonderland".

The book "Through the Looking Glass" was a favorite of mine when I was younger. I have a really beautiful illustrated copy. It was really my first introduction to British Literature, as well as absurdism. I always liked how when nonsensical and unusual things happened, Alice just sort of accepted it and rolled with it, as if there was nothing weird about it at all. The movie did a great job of playing that up too.

One thing that the movie didn't do so well was the music. Most of the songs are boring and forgettable, and the opening credit music is really shrill. It really is the worst of that 1950's style movie chorus music.

It is an interesting movie to watch, when you keep in mind that it was made about 15 years before the drug culture became part of public consciousness. You realize that the somewhat psychedelic aspects, the trippy imagery and all the chasing the white rabbit stuff, was done completely unironically. It's just good old fashioned innocent imagination. It does make me wonder though how the new version Tim Burton is making will interpret it all, now that the story itself is basically a euphemism for hallucinating. I don't think he's going to hold back at all, it's going to be a visual explosion!

I had a really hard time deciding which clip to put up for this. My favorite part of the movie is probably when the white rabbit thinks Alice is his maid "Mary ann" and makes her go find his gloves, just because it cracks me up. Mary Ann! Sadly, there weren't any clips of that part on the youtube. This reenactment was as close as I could get.

I also considered putting up the caterpillar scene. I always especially liked the part where he talks about the crocodile. But I also find the parts where he looses his shit at Alice kind of annoying.

So I picked this song, which I remembered the video for much better than the actual song itself. Again, its got that whole bland 1950's chorus thing going on. I really love the idea of doggerpillars and rocking horse flies though.

The weirdest part of it is at 2:15 when Alice messes up the high note in the song. I'm not really sure why they did it that way. I also really like Alice's parting shot to the flowers. "You can learn a lot of things from the flowers...Psha, They could learn some manners."

The only thing I know for sure though about the new Tim Burton version is that Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter. I'm pretty confident that he's going to make the character seem cooler than this guy did:

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