Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972)

Theatrical Release Poster 1972

Theatrical Release Poster 1972

I was amazed to discover the plethora of movies made regarding Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that either stuck fairly closely to the original story or incorporated elements of the Alice stories.  In addition to movies, there were also television shows, one of the more interesting ones was a short lived, Canadian courtroom drama entitled This is Wonderland with the lead character named Alice De Reay.  With so many interesting choices, it was difficult to decide where to focus my attention.  I chose to watch and report on the 1972 British musical film Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

This film stayed fairly close to Lewis Carroll’s original story with the major exception of incorporating the scene with Tweedledee and Tweedledum from Through the Looking Glass.  This scene was inserted after Alice’s conversation with the caterpillar and prior to arriving at the Duchess’s house for the pig and pepper scene.  The screenplay omitted some minor elements but, being a musical, expanded on others.  The verses used in the book that made it into the movie where converted to song, for example “Will you Walk a Little Faster, Said a Whiting to a Snail” featuring Mock Turtle, the Gryphon and Alice.

To see the clip, click on this link:  Will You, Won’t You Join the Dance…

Alice (Fiona Fullerton)

Alice (Fiona Fullerton)

In the book, Alice was seven years old; in the film, her age is indeterminate but she appears older.  Fiona Fullerton who was 16 years old when the film was originally released played Alice.  Because of the special effects of Alice shrinking and growing throughout, the only “give away” that she is older is the Lolita-like appearance of her face.

The costume designers did a wonderful job portraying the various Wonderland characters as close as possible to the characters drawn by John Tenniel in the first edition of the novel.  However, as with the book itself, I found the characters to be disturbing in their appearance.

Tweedles

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

The Cheshire Cat

The Cheshire Cat

As mentioned earlier in this post, the film was fairly true to the book.  But, this is primarily in relation to the story line.  What was lost in the film was some of the exquisite word play used by Carroll throughout Alice.  None-the-less, the spirit and intent of the fantasy remains and, as a musical the addition to the Mad Hatter’s tea party was one of my favorites.  I think you will enjoy it as well, The Pun Song

4 thoughts on “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972)

  1. I’m fascinated by the way that filmmakers mix and match the episodes from Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It seems like almost every remake does that, particularly with Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Why do you suppose that scene is the one that the director or scriptwriter decided had to be included instead of the Lion and the Unicorn, or the White Knight, or Humpty Dumpty?

    I’m also struck by the Pun Song that you linked to at the end of the post because it does, as you say, keep to the spirit of the episode (which contains many puns), but is entirely new text. Was the rest of the scene new dialog as well, or was the song where most of the word-play in the scene happened? The Disney Animated Alice also includes a song in the tea party scene, but it is the “Very Merry Unbirthday” song, which is text pulled from Humpty Dumpty in Looking Glass instead of text from the tea party episode. Do you think there is something about the actual text of that episode that makes it unfilmable?

    • Tweedledum and Tweedledee seem to popular characters to cross over from Through the Looking glass to the original Alice. In this case, it may be because it was a British production and the costumes are distinctively British schoolboy. The “battle” of course is entertaining and subsequent darkening by the giant Crow provided a good transition to the next scene.

      The tea party stuck fairly close to the original story although the movement to new chairs was more frenetic and comical. I think the Pun Song was included here to put a focus on Carroll’s original use of words which wasn’t as obvious throughout the film.

  2. I enjoyed reading your post on the 1972 musical version of Alice in Wonderland. Seeing that it’s a musical do you know if it was performed at a Theatre first as some plays do? Also the pun song seems entertaining, how was the rest of the music. Also just from looking at the costumes in the pictures you posted, I can see why you thought they were disturbing. The costumes do seem pretty trippy in particular the Chessire cat’s costume. Also do you know if this reimagining was very popular at the time? How was the overall tone of the musical, was it generally pleasant or a bit dark like Tim Burton’s. The costumes do seem out there which is why I asked, but I’m going to assume since it is a musical that it was pretty tame. Interesting read, I enjoyed it.

    • The music in this version was actually quite good, Fiona Fullerton had a beautiful voice (and may still have, although I have not listened to anything more recent from her). The film won awards in 1973 from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.

      I must admit that I’m not a huge Alice fan but for a movie keeping in touch with it’s book roots and as a musical, I found the film entertaining. If you enjoy musicals, I recommend it for a cold, rainy day.

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