healyg: (Healslime)
In honor of the 150th Anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I will be recommending one Alice-related thing each Saturday, starting July 4th, continuing on into November, or whenever I get tired of it.

The 1999 TV movie version of Alice in Wonderland (produced by Hallmark) is, strictly speaking, not my favorite version of Alice by a longshot. It's far too treacly in parts, filled with all these insistent references to performing, not losing your nerve, etc., etc. It's a bit like having your favorite album be periodically interrupted by snippets from an inspirational speaker. Too many of the performers are just hamming it up, as well. (Witness Martin Short's turn as the Mad Hatter)

But the special effects are nearly worth the cost of admission by themselves. It was made in a transitional era between CGI and practical effects, so there's lots of puppetry mixed in with the CG. The White Rabbit in particular still looks very good. The sets are all well done as, too (my favorite is the White Rabbit's house, which is a pop-up illustration that comes to life), although some of these are brought down by lighting issues. And some of the singing is quite good.

Overall, should you watch this movie? It's still not very good, but if you enjoy spectacles, and can get it for cheap, I say you should.

Availability: The DVD is on Amazon for about 10-20 bucks, and it's also available on Youtube. I'm not too sure about its streaming status, but you can probably look that up online.
healyg: (Healslime)
In honor of the 150th Anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I will be recommending one Alice-related thing each Saturday, starting July 4th, continuing on into November, or whenever I get tired of it.

Let's start things off by talking about the original book, Alice in Wonderland. It's a funnier book than most nowadays give credit for; as an example, here's a quote from Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts?:

Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will just explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)

"I'm glad I've seen that done," thought Alice. "I've so often read in the newspapers, at the end of trials, 'There was some attempt at applause, which was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court,' and I never understood what it meant till now."


The plot, such as it is, hardly needs to be explained at this point, but I'll try: Alice is sitting on a riverbank with her older sister when suddenly she spies a white rabbit with a waistcoat and pocket watch running off. She follows him down a hole, where she meets a most curious cast of characters, most of them rude, foolish, or both. After playing a croquet game with the murderous Queen of Hearts (and a short visit with a Griffin), she winds up watching a ludicrous trial. It is there that she threatens the Queen's soldiers ("Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!"); when they come flying up at her, she wakes up.

It's really better than I'm making it sound, and it's not the sort of book that relies much on plot anyway. You read it for the wit, the puns, the witty puns, the crazy antics of the cast, etc. It's quite a charming book, and while it has its moments of darkness, modern adaptations tend to overstress that point. Give it a read if you haven't in a while, you might be surprised.

Availability: It's in the public domain, so there are tons of free editions floating around the internet (here's several on Project Gutenberg). It should also be available at any public library.

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