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Alice in Wonderland (1966)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this black-and-white interpretation of Lewis Carroll's tale Alice in Wonderland is an experiment in surrealism. Since none of the characters are in costume, it's difficult to tell the difference between the Rabbit and the Caterpillar, for example. This movie plays out more as a commentary on British middle-class moires than as a fantastic journey. It's geared more towards adults than kids.
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What's the story?
When this Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) in ALICE IN WONDERLAND falls into a dream, she sees a man running and follows him to a tunnel. Finding herself in a grand hallway with many windows and doors, she settles near a table with a key and a bottle labeled "Drink Me." She does so and shrinks considerably, then she consumes a tart with the words, "Eat Me" and grows again. She doesn't speak about this strange world, but whispers "Who am I?" Soon, Alice is in a group of adults lecturing on very "boring" subjects and who decide to run a "caucus race." The race ends in a pile of bodies and the sounds of pigs squealing. She then finds herself in a library of a man building a model. He asks her very pointedly: "Who are you?" Alice exclaims that she is changing so quickly that she can't keep track of who she is. After attending a "very boring" tea party at the Duchess' house, Alice comes to the Queen's procession, where bystanders are at risk of losing their heads. The King (Peter Sellers) presides over the chaotic court and Alice wakes to find herself in a meadow. All these scenes are set to the sitar stylings of Ravi Shankar.
Is it any good?
Fans of surreal films in the style of Bergman and Fellini will be pleased with this version of Lewis Carroll's story. Viewers looking for a costumed fantasy where Alice is more concerned with "Where am I?" than "Who am I?" will be disappointed. Great British actors, like John Gielgud, Peter Sellers, and Sir Michael Redgrave try to guide Alice on her journey of self-discovery, but Alice herself is aloof, gloomy, and detached. She rarely looks at the characters when she speaks, and is often thinking in whispers about how truly stupid everyone is and how "boring" everything is. Though Alice in Wonderland is a fascinating interpretation -- and a nice example of 1960s experimentation -- young viewers are apt to be as bored with this story as Alice is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Alice in this version of Lewis Carrol's story Alice in Wonderland. She's more withdrawn and detached than other versions of the tale. Why do you think she's portrayed this way?
Compare this version of the story with others. Which interpretation do you prefer? Why? Why do you think this story has been intepreted in so many ways?
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