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(60th Anniversary Edition)

ALICE IN WONDERLAND ($40) is one of those rare Disney animated films that did not initially click with audiences and was considered something of a disappointment at the time of its release. The film was also ill received in Britain and became a target for British literary critics, who took issue with the perceived Americanization of the Lewis Carroll classic by Walt Disney. Perhaps in 1951 ALICE IN WONDERLAND was a film ahead of its time, since the movie became successful later on, when its somewhat hallucinatory visuals caught on with the more psychedelic generation that followed. Still, Walt Disney intended his ALICE IN WONDERLAND for family audiences, and utilized Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and elements from Through The Looking-Glass for the story, which did have enough latitude to allow the animators to run wild and create one of the studio’s most beautifully outlandish films.

The premise of ALICE IN WONDERLAND follows a young girl named Alice, who quickly grows bored listening to her older sister reading a history lesson from a book. Soon Alice begins daydreaming about living in a world of nonsense… then suddenly spies a White Rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a large pocket watch espousing about being late. The unusual site entices Alice to follow White Rabbit, which results in our young heroine falling down a rabbit hole. At the bottom, Alice enters nonsensical realm where she encounters a number strange characters, all of whom, seem to be either slightly or quite mad. The story progresses with Alice going from one misadventure to the next, with hers being the only voice of reason in a world where madness and nonsense are the order of the day. The delightful vocal cast of ALICE IN WONDERLAND features Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Holloway, Jerry Colonna, Verna Felton, J. Pat O'Malley, Bill Thompson, Heather Angel, Joseph Kearns, Larry Grey, Queenie Leonard, Dink Trout, Doris Lloyd, James MacDonald, Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft, Max Smith and Bob Hamlin.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made ALICE IN WONDERLAND available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation for ALICE IN WONDERLAND is truly wondrous and it allows one to fully appreciate the artistry of the Disney animators. Like other Disney animated classics ALICE IN WONDERLAND has been meticulously restored/rejuvenated in the digital realm, so that not a single sign of age can be noticed during its entire running time. The image has also been polished like a shining jewel and dazzles one’s eye at every turn. Sharpness and detail are exemplary for this type of tradition 2D cel animation. Colors are wonderfully vibrant, with every hue being perfectly rendered. I am left to wonder if the IB Technicolor prints of ALICE IN WONDERLAND delivered colors as well as the Blu-ray presentation. Blacks are inky, while the whites are crisp and clean. Contrast is very smooth. Very modest grain is present within the image.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For a sixty-year-old film, the re-mastered soundtrack is quite engaging. Music has been spread throughout the soundstage and never comes across as what I like to call thickened monaural. The lossless encode really makes the most of the recordings, which had to have been really well made for the time of their production. Sure, the fidelity isn’t at modern levels but the music never comes across as thin, coarse or abrasive. Additionally, the bass channel provides for a nicely weighted bottom end that gives the sound that something extra. Most audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves the track with a very smooth sonic quality. A cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical soundtrack is also present on this release, but is thin sounding in comparison to the lossless track. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Featuring an introduction by the film’s lead voice actress Kathryn Beaumont, Through The Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide To Wonderland is Interactive Commentary that has augmented with in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences (requires a Profile 1.1 player). A Disney View mode is also included, which replaces the black bars on the sides of the image with related artwork.

Taken from the previous DVD release comes: Reflections On Alice, Operation Wonderland, One Hour In Wonderland, I’m Odd a then "Newly Discovered" Cheshire Cat Song, Thru The Mirror- a Mickey Mouse Animated Short, An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland- silent era Disney, the 1951 Original Theatrical Trailer and the 1974 Theatrical Rerelease Trailer. Other Programs and errata include: Reference Footage: Alice And The Doorknob with Optional Commentary by Kathryn Beaumont, Pencil Test: Alice Shrinks, Walt Disney TV Introductions from the 1954 and 1964 broadcasts of the film and an excerpt from The Fred Waring Show promoting the film. Some Deleted Materials and an Interactive Art Gallery close out the standard supplements. Disc two contains a DVD edition of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND is a wondrous visual treat that is definitely one of the most outlandish films to every come out of Disney animation. The Blu-ray presentation is glorious. Very highly recommended.


Alice In Wonderland (Two-Disc 60th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1951)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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