Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Apr 27, 2011
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

Release Date(s)

1951 (February 1, 2011)

Studio(s)

Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Disney)

Review

“I’m late!  I’m late!  For a very important date!  No time to say hello, goodbye!  I’m late!  I’m late!  I’m late!”

Disney’s 1951 version of Alice in Wonderland is one of the most beloved titles in the Disney animated catalogue.  Based on the Lewis Carroll’s children’s novels “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass,” it’s also one of the most whimsical of all of Disney’s animated features.  I’ve always felt that the story itself was a bit uneven, but I believe the film was aimed more directly at kids rather than families – much like the original stories.  We meet one silly group of people after another, rather like The Wizard of Oz, without much explanation or juxtaposition.  I’m not complaining really because it all works in the confines of the story itself.  It’s a very cerebral exercise set in this fantastic little world called Wonderland, even though upon its initial release it was derided by critics and fans of Lewis Carroll.  None of that matters, of course, as it has stood the test of time and is still a much beloved film.

The presentation on this Blu-ray release is just as fantastic as one would expect.  Disney is really pulling out all the stops with these upgrades.  Colors are deep, lush and extremely vibrant.  Everything from Alice’s dress, the Caterpillar’s smoke and even the red of the painted roses are positively bursting with rich color.  The film itself is almost completely free of debris and grain, although I noticed some small but brief weak points in the print, but they’re so miniscule that you’ll actually have to freeze frame to see them more carefully.  Overall, this is a wonderfully detailed and sharp image, especially for a fifty year old animated film. For the audio options, you get an English 5.1 DTS-HD track, as well as French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks.  The most important track though, in my opinion, is the restored original theatrical soundtrack in mono.  I prefer seeing a film not just the way it was meant to be seen, but also how it was meant to be heard.  Don’t get me wrong though.  The DTS track does a great job, but I prefer the original mono mix.  Both are very satisfying and should leave very little room for complaint.  There are also optional subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.  You may also toggle the disc’s screen saver on or off plus set its delay timer.

As for the extras, this is really a marvelous package.  Essentially everything from the original DVD release has been carried over.  The only things missing are a couple of interactive games and two sing-alongs.  Things begin with the Disneyview option, which allows you to watch the film with artwork placed in the blank spaces on each side of the screen.  I have to say, I really love this option and hope that they continue to implement it with their classic full screen features.  There’s also an option called Recommended Feature, which will pick an extra at random and display it on the main menu.  In the Backstage Disney portion, a fantastic documentary called Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland plays side-by-side with the main feature.  Also here is Reference Footage: Alice and the Doorknob, as well as the Pencil Test: Alice Shrinks segment.  It’s also worth nothing that all three of these extras are introduced by Alice herself, Kathryn Beaumont.  In the Family Play portion, you’ll find the Walt Disney Color TV Introduction to the film, which was used when it was aired on television in 1954.  Also look for the Games & Activities sub-heading, under which you’ll find the Painting the Roses Red game.

The Classic DVD Bonus Features section includes all of the following: the Reflections on Alice featurette, the Operation Wonderland archival featurette, “I’m Odd,” a Cheshire Cat song that was cut from the final film, Thru the Mirror, a Mickey Mouse animated short, One Hour in Wonderland, which was featured on The Wonderful World of Disney TV program, An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland animated short, the original theatrical trailers, both of Walt Disney’s TV introductions to the film from 1954 & 1964 (the one from 1954 now in black in white), an excerpt from The Fred Waring Show featuring performances of selections from the film’s score, deleted materials, and finally an Interactive Art Gallery.  Additionally, there’s a Digital Copy segment and some Sneak Peeks (the latter of which also open the disc).

On the DVD that’s included, you get two audio options: Dolby Digital 5.1 and the original theatrical soundtrack (mono), as well as subtitles in French and Spanish.  The extras include one of the deleted scenes featured on the Blu-ray: Pig and Pepper, the Reflections on Alice featurette, and a Virtual Wonderland Party interactive game (carried over from the original DVD release).

This is a really well put-together little package, and dare I say, the best of the Disney Blu-ray packages thus far.  The ones before it tend to be light on including previously released extras or featured troublesome menu schemes, but with Alice in Wonderland, they got it absolutely spot on.  This is a terrific release, and one that kids and adults alike will have a great time with.  Highly recommended.

Tim Salmons

 

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