Alice on Film and Video

Fuse#8 — How could you do this to me: mentioning Alice in Wonderland in your inaugural Video Sunday!? To Educating Alice-Carrollian-Me? And so here I am, two hours later, coming up for air from my own investigation of Alice on Youtube.

But first, a (not so) little background. Just as with every and anything, there are Carrollians (Lewis Carroll obsessives) who collect and know all there is to know about the films of Alice in Wonderland (the book title is really Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but I’m not fussy). And so, at meetings held by the various Lewis Carroll societies over the years, folks have discussed and shown many of these films. Here’s a good list of films at the Lewis Carroll website. And I’ve just come across a list of films screened at the Animating Alice Film Festival of a few years back in the U.K.

And speaking of such events, the next meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America will be here in NYC at Columbia University on April 14th for anyone interested in getting a taste of what a literary society meeting is like. I’ve just found out from graphic novelist Bryan Talbot that he will be presenting. He’s the creator of The Tale of One Bad Rat and has been working for years on Alice in Sunderland which, I believe, will be out in the US by then. I will definitely be there. (My first LCSNA meeting was at Columbia so I like that it is there again. That I live nearby doesn’t hurt either. Um…Fuse…so do you, wanna come?)

Getting back to youtube, Fuse features a scene from the star studded 1933 Paramount film. This film is much talked about in Carroll circles, but I only recently finally saw it, thanks to the grandparents of a student who had been alert enough to tape it when it was on television (which must have been on some obscure channel at 2 AM as I never saw it!). And it is one oddity, I can tell you. The effects are incredibly cheesy for a film of its time (made a few years before MGM’s Wizard of Oz), especially given the cast. In addition to Gary Cooper as the White Knight, you’ve got Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle and W. C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty.

Another well-known version is Jan Svankmajer’s. It is available on DVD, but is way too creepy for my fourth graders. Here’s how it starts. And here’s another clip. And another. And still another one.

Then there is the really cool Jonathan Miller BBC version from 1966 with all the great actors of the day — Peter Sellers, John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave and music by Ravi Shankar. Most Carrollians love it, but while not as creepy as Svankmajer’s, I don’t think it is particularly appealing to kids. Here’s a clip.

I’ve always kicked myself for not waiting in line at the Public Theater way back in 1981 to see Liz Swados’ production with none other than Meryl Streep (yes, really!) as Alice. Here’s a clip (from the DVD which is available for purchase and quite fun — I did show it to my class last year).

One not on youtube is Dennis Potter’s Dreamchild. I adore this movie which was filmed in Oxford and has some very cool dream sequences with Henson puppets. Many Carrollians don’t feel as I do, understandably, because Potter does play fast and loose with the biographical details, in particular the relationship between Carroll and the Liddell family (of which Alice is the child to whom the stories were first told).

Here are a few more clips that I found this morning:

Alice in Wonderland Jello TV Commercial 1954

Alice in Rexall-Land Commercial

Betty Boop in Blunderland

Louis Vuitton Japanese Commercial

Miyuki Chan in Wonderland (This clip seems to be an anime with French subtitles and the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” dubbed over it. A little googling and I found out that this was evidently a manga series first.)

Brooke Shields as Alice on The Muppet Show

One of Disney’s 1923 Alice’s Wonderland series. (This, by the way, is such a cool series. Most of them are on the Disney Rarities DVD.)

Youtube is also full of clips from the Disney version (which I quite like) and various live-action versions of the last few decades (which I pretty much don’t like). These include William Sterling’s version from 1972 featuring Dudley Moore as the Dormouse, a film of a Broadway production featuring Richard Burton (and Nathan Lane as Fuse discovered), the 1985 television production (with all sorts of stars including, ahem, Ringo Starr as the Mock Turtle), and the one with Whoopie Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat.



Filed under Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

6 responses to “Alice on Film and Video

  1. Hi Monica!!!! Adele’s here! I’ve read your e-mail on lewiscarroll group and I’m here!
    I’ll spend my afternoon here, I guess :-)
    Have a nice week! Adele aka CharlieBrown


  2. Oh, fantastic!
    If every video Sunday reaps such goodies as this, I’m definitely keeping it up.

    And yes, I think going to the Carroll Society shindig at Columbia would be a blast. Let’s do that thing.


  3. Video Sunday! What a great idea. I love it!


  4. Pingback: A Blog of Bosh - » The 1903 Alice Movie

  5. Julie

    The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago has quite a lovely adaptation, with lots of gymnastics and, yes, balloons!

    It’s in New York currently, I believe, and will return to Chicago in April.


  6. Pingback: Teaching with YouTube « educating alice

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