Walt Disney has lent his hand in the creation of many animated movies. But one of those creations that he absolutely hated was Alice in Wonderland. After a troubled production history, with many of the animators losing their productivity and spirits with it (they felt the story and characters had no heart and soul), Alice in Wonderland was a flop with both British and American moviegoers and lost a lot of money. Walt’s response? “I think Alice got what she deserved. I never wanted to make it in the first place, but everybody said I should. I tried to introduce a little sentiment by getting Alice involved with the White Knight, but they said we couldn’t tamper with a classic. So we just kept moving at a circus pace.” (From Disney’s Art and Animation by Bob Thomas, page 101)
And honestly? I can’t blame him. This film is unpleasant.
Now I can’t really comment on the book as I have never truly read it (just the abridged versions of it) so it might contain some nuances and commentary that I don’t know. If THIS is to be believed, apparently Lewis wrote it to point out how absurd and ridiculous math is, and how it’s basically nonsense. But I do know that all the subsequent adaptations and general theme of the Alice in Wonderland mythos is to not make sense, to be an adventure into childlike nonsense, look at things from a sillier point of view, all that jazz.
I find that stuff really ridiculous and boring. Just because it’s random and unconventional doesn’t mean it’s artsy or good. Even if it is supposed to be a satire, it doesn’t HAVE to be presented in a way that’s so off the wall to the point where most of it doesn’t make sense.
But I think most people like that. I think they like how it’s basically a high in the form of a children’s book. I think people kind of admire the idea of someone being so stoned out of their mind they created something so weird and imaginative, and the Disney product sort of retains that while looking good.
While the visuals are nice and the Queen of Hearts is a lot of fun, that’s not enough to draw me in. The film is a dense, inane story where literally NOTHING HAPPENS, other than that Alice gets antagonized by weird, random, and even creepy creatures until she essentially gets scared and irritated into realizing that her childlike sense of wonder is, well, inappropriate. There’s no real plot or character development, nor is there a reason why I’m supposed to like the world we’re in, since most of the characters are assholes.
What’s worse is that in the end, it all turns out to be what’s supposed to be a dream, and there’s no real moral at the end. If there is a moral, I don’t get it, nor do I care.
I know I’m probably going to get flack for this, but this is one of the few Disney movies that I genuinely don’t like. I get it. It looks pretty and is a nice little trip into nonsense. But I need substance with my style.
I also absolutely hate the live action remake of this movie too. Even though it has some substance to it, it’s a very generic form of substance (ho hum, a chosen one saving a promised land to restore the rightful ruler, yeah yeah), and the visuals overkill it with conspicuous CGI. And I STILL don’t like the world or characters.
If you like it, that’s entirely within your right. More power to you. But for me, it just feels like a really bad high, one that I never want to experience ever again.