'Alice in Wonderland': Still Brillig After All These Years
Of the movies released during Disney's second "golden age" of animation, Alice is Wonderland is my favorite. Lacking the warm, gooey center of Cinderella or One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Alice is the most non-Disney of Disney feature films, an episodic farce that piles gag upon gag in rapid succession. You don't invest any real emotion in the characters, unless you count silliness as an emotion. You just hang on and enjoy the ride. Critics have cited this as a problem with the film. I say this is what makes it stand out, especially with the classic animation and iconic characters that the Disney artists derived from Lewis Carroll's original stories.
The familiar tale of an English girl's trip down the rabbit hole, where she encounters singing flowers, a perpetual tea party and an evil queen with a penchant for croquet, is brought vividly to life through the color schemes of Mary Blair and the inventiveness of animation director Ward Kimball, who was responsible for the most memorable segments in the movie, the Mad Tea Party and the Cheshire Cat. In the tea party scene below, watch all the funny business Kimball crams into it, from a clever distribution of hats to the March Hare's twitchy gestures to the miraculous pouring of an entire cup of tea: