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Alice in Wonderland - 1985
Alice in Wonderland - 1985   The film opens on an image of "the looking glass", and as the orchestra stikes up a hearty overture, the many star performers are displayed within the frame against a chessboard pattern. After the credits, a large, Tudor-style house appears.
  Inside the house, Alice is helping her mother set the table. She expresses a wish to take tea with the adults, establishing the central theme of this production: growing up, but her mother tells her to be patient ("Tea time for you will come soon enough") and to keep her sister company outside. However, once in the garden, it is clear Alice's sister wants to be left alone with her book.
  Suddenly, the White Rabbit runs past, and Alice chases him along a woodland path to a gigantic rabbit hole. Far from floating dreamily past cupboards and bookshelves, this Alice plunges into a nightmarish cavern, echoing with thunderclaps and bolts of lightning.
  Landing with a bump, she chases Mr Rabbit through a maze of underground tunnels and finds a peculiar series of doors (one behind the other, each smaller than the last, à la Disney). Through this doorway she enters a room lined with even more doors, all of which are locked. Alice wants to go home (another major plot device added in this version). Finding a gold key, she unlocks a tiny door that leads to a beautiful garden, but can't fit through. The Drink Me bottle causes her to shrink (conveyed by a rather inept traveling matte shot and an oversized table leg), but the key is now out of reach. The Eat Me cake has the opposite effect, making Alice nine feet tall, and she begins to cry, flooding the room. The torrential tears are clearly running from pipes behind Alice's hands; hopefully the exaggerated, cartoonish effect was intentional. The White Rabbit briefly reappears, only to flee from the towering Alice, dropping his fan and gloves. When Alice picks up the fan, she shrinks again and falls into the pool (or, in this case, river) of tears.
  Alice meets the mouse, who helps her get to dry land and sings I Hate Dogs and Cats. Nonsensically (even for Wonderland), he professes a hatred for squawking birds, particularly "ducks", whilst dancing with a dodo, a lory, an eaglet and a duck! Appalled by the creatures' wild and undignified behaviour, Alice storms off and soon meets the White Rabbit again. He mistakes her for his housemaid and sends her to fetch replacement gloves and a fan.
  Inside his quaint cottage, appropriately decorated with fans and rabbit-themed artwork (the family portrait over the mantelpiece is exceptional), Alice drinks from another bottle and grows until she fills the room. A clever projection set-up of her humongous arm swiping at the White Rabbit through the window is one of the strongest effects shots in the film.
  A shower of rock cakes, thrown by Mr Rabbit and friends, makes Alice shrink enough to escape the house and take to the woods, where she meets the caterpillar. Together, they perform a jazzy recital of Father William, complete with a costume change, tap dancing and pyrotechnics. After a brief discussion about Alice's confusion concerning her identity, the caterpillar takes offense and disappears.
  Moving on, Alice reaches the Duchess's house, and after a short confrontation with the insufferable frog footman, enters the kitchen to find the Duchess with her baby and her plate-throwing cook. They sing an ironic song about the joys of negativity, There's Something to Say for Hatred, and Alice decides to kidnap the baby for its own safety. However, once back in the forest, the baby transforms into an alarmingly frantic piglet, which trots away still wearing a bonnet.
  Next, the Cheshire Cat appears and sings the gloomy There's No Way Home, a harsh warning that if Alice is so keen to grow up, there will be no going back. He directs her to the March Hare's garden, where he is having a tea party with the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse. This is one of the most detailed sets in the film; the March Hare's cottage is exactly as described in the book, with its chimneys shaped like ears and roof thatched with fur, and the flowers in the garden look just like those from Tenniel's illustrations. The tea table is quintessentially Victorian with its ornate white furniture, and the irregular, ruffled crockery adds an eccentric twist. After much "folderol, persiflage, badinage, tomfoolery and banter" (for once, a script deviating from Carroll's wording succeeds in upholding the wit and charm of the books), the Mad Hatter sings Laugh, highly reminiscient of a song he wrote for Willy Wonka fifteen years earlier.
  Leaving the party, Alice comes across an adorable fawn, to whom she sings Why Do People...?, before finding herself in the beautiful garden.
Alice in Wonderland - 1985