Alice in Wonderland (Disney’s) Parent Guide
For me the whole attraction of "Alice in Wonderland" just gets "curiouser and curiouser."
Parent Movie Review
Of all the stories a family filmmaker could have chosen to adapt into a feature, why did Walt Disney pick Alice in Wonderland? Full of offbeat characters like a cryptic cat that vanishes except for his smile, a hookah-pipe smoking caterpillar, an insane milliner with a tea fetish and a maniacal monarch who is execution-obsessed, the tale hardly appears to provide the sorts of ingredients that typically delight children. Nevertheless, this version of Lewis Carroll’s literary work (with a few bits borrowed from Through the Looking Glass) became the emerging entertainment mogul’s fifth full-length animation.
In this telling, young Alice (voice of Kathryn Beaumont) finds her mind drifting instead of closely conforming to a history lesson being read to her by an older sister. Bored by the dates and details of the dreary lecture, she imagines a world free of rules, where nonsense reigns. But her daydreams are interrupted by a White Rabbit (voice of Bill Thompson) with a large pocket watch who is saying something about being late. Full of questions, and feeling his incessant muttering is more interesting than her sister’s droning, Alice decides to investigate. However, when she follows the tardy bunny down his hole, the ensuing adventure just gets “curiouser and curiouser.”
Those familiar with the novel upon which this movie is based will not be surprised by the portrayal of many of the famous elements of the story, like falling down and/or up, as well as growing small and/or large after consuming magical food. Iconic figures such as the twins Tweedledee and Tweedledum (voice of J. Pat O’Malley), the Caterpillar (voice of Richard Hayden), the Mad Hatter (voice of Ed Wynn), the March Hare (Jerry Colonna), the Cheshire Cat (voice of Sterling Holloway) and the Queen of Hearts (voice of Verna Felton) all make appearances along the way.
Yet for youngsters, to whom this production may act as an introduction to Carroll’s writing, these characters may seem more alarming than charming. As Alice wanders through Wonderland, her encounters become increasingly strange and hostile. Pretty flowers quickly turn prickly proving her visit will be no bed of roses, she can’t even get a cup of tea at an un-birthday party and when she starts to cry she’s in danger of drowning in her own tears. Then, after an emotional scene where she confesses to being thoroughly lost and alone, she is directed to look for the way home by consulting the queen of the land. No “Disney Princess” this! Still, no one thinks to warn the searching child that the heartless ruler will undoubtedly order, “Off with her head!”
So why did the inventor of Mickey Mouse dream of animating this whimsical classic? And what accounts for the enduring nature of Lewis Carroll’s book, which has been translated into 125 languages and has never been out of print since its initial publication in 1866? And why, despite its nightmarish feel, has Disney’s adaptation managed to entertain audiences worldwide for decades? (It celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2011.) For me the whole attraction of Alice in Wonderland just gets “curiouser and curiouser.”Directed by Wilfred Jackson, Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske. Starring Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Sterling Holloway, Verna Felton. Running time: 75 minutes. Theatrical release July 28, 1951. Updated July 17, 2017
Alice in Wonderland (Disney’s)
Rating & Content Info
Why is Alice in Wonderland (Disney’s) rated G? Alice in Wonderland (Disney’s) is rated G by the MPAA
Violence: A young girl finds herself in difficult and perilous situations throughout the movie. These include shrinking, growing, falling, near-drowning, being lost, as well as being threatened verbally and physically. Slapstick violence and property damage are depicted. A walrus befriends baby oysters so he can eat them. A character threatens to execute others for minor offences. An unjust trial is held and a character is forced to run for her life.
Sexual Content: A buxom woman adjusts her bra, and her underwear is briefly seen.
Language: Verbal threats are uttered.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Magic food causes characters to grow or shrink. Various characters use a pipe, cigar, and hookah-pipe (the exhaled smoke from one of them makes a child cough).
Note: The DVD and Blu-ray contain an anti-smoking disclaimer that runs before the movie begins.
Other: A child expresses deep concern when she is lost and fears she will never find her way home. Strange looking creatures and nightmarish sequences may frighten young viewers.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
Alice in Wonderland (Disney’s) Parents' Guide
When Alice is exploring Wonderland she meets the Cheshire Cat and asks him for directions. He in turn asks her where she wants to go. When she says she doesn’t know, he replies it really doesn’t matter what way she goes if it doesn’t matter where she ends up. How is his answer a good metaphor for life? Why is having a goal an important part of achieving success?
How do Alice’s questions for the Cheshire Cat change after she has determined she wants to go home? What makes Alice decide she has had “enough nonsense”?
Click here to learn more about Lewis Carroll’s highly successful book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The most recent home video release of Alice in Wonderland (Disney’s) movie is February 1, 2011. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Disney’s Alice In Wonderland (1951): Two-Disc 60th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: 1 February 2011
-Blu-ray and DVD copies of the movie
- Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland (View the movie in this special mode and discover references to the original Lewis Carroll classic - introduced by the voice of Alice, Kathryn Beaumont.)
- Disney View (Watch the movie in this expanded viewing experience with new Disney art in the wings of the screen.)
- Painting the Roses Red game (Help paint the roses red in the Queen’s garden. Careful, or someone could lose their head.)
- Walt Disney color TV introduction (From 1959 - A never-before-seen color TV intro by Walt)
- Reference Footage: Alice and the Doorknob (Kathryn Beaumont provides an introduction to this newly discovered reference footage of Alice talking to the doorknob)
- Pencil Test: Alice Shrinks (Kathryn Beaumont introduces a newly discovered pencil test of Alice shrinking)
- Reflections on Alice
- Operation Wonderland (now in hi-def)
- "I’m Odd" newly discovered Cheshire Cat song and intro
- Thru the Mirror Mickey Mouse animated short (now in hi-def)
- One-hour in Wonderland
- An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland
- Original theatrical trailers (1951 & 1974)
Related home video titles:
Alice in Wonderland was Walt Disney’s fifth full-length feature animated film. The first four were Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi. His studio made a live-action version of Alice In Wonderland in 2010, with Tim Burton at the helm.
Kathryn Beaumont not only lent her voice to the character of Alice, but also to Wendy in Disney’s Peter Pan. Ed Wynn, who can be heard as the Mad Hatter in this film, plays a similar character hosting another hilarious tea party in the live-action movie Mary Poppins.