‘If I had a world of my own everything would be nonsense’
Alice in Wonderland was my favorite movie in high school. For my 16th birthday my mom got me the DVD of Disney’s 1951 version of Alice of Alice in Wonderland and the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Pop-Up Edition book. (And Bob Marley Legends)
The film is based on the Alice books by Lewis Carroll.
A brief production history
- 1923 - Disney worked at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City worked on an animated short featuring a live action girl interacting with the animated world, Alice in Wonderland. in July of 1923 Laugh-O-Gram Studio went bankrupt and the film was never released.
- 1932 - Disney started moving on making a live action version Alice and purchased the rights to Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations. However, in 1933 Paramont made a live-action adaptation of Alice, so Disney made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs instead
- 1939 - Disney officially registered the title Alice in Wonderland with the Motion Picture Association of America and completed a first round of storyboards was started.
- 1939 - A storyreel completed but Walt was not pleased, he felt the drawings resembled books illustrations too much were too difficult to animate and too grotesque & dark. Realizing the amount of work needed to create the film and economic devastation of World War II Walt shelved the film again.
- 1945 - with World War II over Alice was revided was once again. A background artist, Mary Blair, submitted some concept drawings, which moved away from Tenniel’s sketchy illustrations by taking a modernist stance, using bold and unreal colors. Walt liked the new new illustrations and had the script re-written to focus on comedy, music, and the whimsical side to Carroll’s book.
- 1946 - work began on an all-animated version of Alice in Wonderland
- 1951 - movie released!
Other than the illustrations, the music is really what brings the film alive. In an effort to retain some of Carroll’s imaginative verses and poems, Disney commissioned top songwriters to compose songs built around them for use in the film. A record number of potential songs were written for the film, based on Carroll’s verses—over 30—and many of them found a way into the film, if only for a few brief moments. Alice in Wonderland would boast the greatest number of songs included in any Disney film.
Originally Alice in Wonderland was not received well, and Walt Disney tried to avoid responsibility for it by claiming he’d never wanted to make it.
It gained popularity in the 1970’s due to the “drug” culture fandom at the time, it was re-released in 1974, and then again in 1981. By the 1980’s the initial consensus proved to be outdated. One of the biggest cult classics in the animation medium, the film gained critical praise and became one of the most popular Disney films of all time, as well as one of the most commercially successful Disney films (ironically considering it’s initial disappointment). Today, it is not only universally considered the best film adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s novel but one of Disney’s greatest classics.