Hey folks, Valkor here. The folks at Warner Home have treated the Val-man with one trippy DVD in the form of "Alice in Wonderland", which is unlike anything I've ever seen before and definitely takes the classic Lewis Carroll book into new directions. It originally aired on the British BBC in 1966 as part of its "Wednesday Plays" and thanks to the new film, directed by Tim Burton, I'm sure this won't be the last version we'll see.
Alice in Wonderland (1966) follows along the same lines as most films that has taken the book and places it on screen, only this time it's more… trippy. Directed by Jonathan Miller he takes the classic book, adds his own spin and in a way it forces you to know the story beforehand because there are no animals or anything that is cartoonish about it, instead the actors all wear a sort of Victorian era garb, but point for point it is the book. First you have Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) who is laid out on the grass with her sister (Jo Maxwell Muller) when she is suddenly lost in this crazy mixed up dream world, she herself is kinda snotty and very somber, who mostly stares blankly into wherever, but hardly ever at the characters she is supposed to be speaking to. As she attempts to follow The White Rabbit (Wilfrid Brambell), she enters a world that takes her on many adventures introducing her to some whacked-out characters such as The Duchess (Leo McKern), who throttles and shakes her baby, which happens to be a pig. Later Alice joins the tea table of the Mad Hatter (Peter Cook) and the Dormouse (Wilfred Lawson), eventually she meets the King of Hearts (Peter Sellers) and the Queen of Hearts (Alison Leggat). What it ultimately comes down to is that it was all a dream - a hauntingly dark and twisted dream that some might find a bit uncomfortable because it's not all bright and cheery. But for a film that took place during the 60's and for the budget that went into it, I can accept it.
The DVD also has a few extras, first being a Director's commentary. You also get the 1903 Cecil Hepworth's silent film version of the book, Dennis Potter's 1965 biopic "Alice" which talks about the real life Alice- Alice Liddell, who was Carroll's inspiration. Finally you have "Ravi Shankar Plays for Alice" and a behind the scenes photo gallery.
But what do I really think about the film?
It was definitely a ride for me; not a rollercoaster ride that I'm normally used to, but one that's like getting on one of those haunted house rides and getting your mind blown. I loved the original Lewis Carroll book and any incarnation that was done on film and to some extent I have to say I enjoyed watching the 1966 film version as well, because it's very, very different. What I enjoyed best was not Alice, but the characters around her and how the actors put their own spin on them, such as the Tea Party scene. There's nothing Zany about it and the Mad Hatter isn't "mad" in the "bouncing off walls, spilling tea everywhere and shouting" nonsense. In this film he seems more madhouse mad, like someone doped him up on meds and he's mellowing off the buzz. The Queen of Hearts makes the show for me because she's so nonchalant about saying "Off with their heads" before moving on to something else. Finally I actually enjoyed Alice, though at times I find her to be kind of a bitch, she's so disconnected from everything and walks through each scene not with curiosity or excitement, but almost zombie-like. Finally kudos goes to the soundtrack, which is very, VERY different and unexpected. Ravi Shankar was called upon to provide the music and boy does it work to add to the overall strangeness of the film.
Not a lot of folks will be able to absorb this.
If you're a fan of the book "Alice in Wonderland" and looking for something a bit "off the beaten path" then definitely give Jonathan Miller's version a try. It's trippy, it's dark, and it's different, though not everyone will enjoy, but I highly recommend it. Out of TOV 5 stars, I give the film 4 stars and it's been Valkor tested and TOV Approved!