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Alice in Wonderland (1966)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, Family, Fantasy  |  28 December 1966 (UK)
7.2
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There have been numerous film adaptations of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", over the years. This one which was produced, written and directed by Jonathan Miller in 1966 for the BBC, is... See full summary »

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Title: Alice in Wonderland (TV Movie 1966)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anne-Marie Mallik ...
Freda Dowie ...
Nurse
Jo Maxwell Muller ...
Alice's Sister (as Jo Maxwell-Muller)
Wilfrid Brambell ...
...
...
Geoffrey Dunn ...
Mark Allington ...
Nicholas Evans ...
Julian Jebb ...
Young Crab
...
Caterpillar (as Sir Michael Redgrave)
John Bird ...
Anthony Trent ...
Fish Footman / 2nd Gardener (as Tony Trent)
...
Avril Elgar ...
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Storyline

There have been numerous film adaptations of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", over the years. This one which was produced, written and directed by Jonathan Miller in 1966 for the BBC, is one of the most original, capturing the surreal dreamlike quality of the book. Miller wanted to get away from the Disney image of the novel; he saw the novel as a picture of upper-middle-class Victorian society: stuffy, pompous and ritualistic. He was inspired by pre-Raphaelite paintings and Victorian photography; thus the imagery in this film is beautiful and is enhanced by Ravi Shankar's haunting music.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Drama | Family | Fantasy

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28 December 1966 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Ralph Richardson was offered a major cameo. See more »

Goofs

In the scenes with the Mock Turtle, his legs are crossed in all the long shots, but in close-up shots, his legs are in a completely different position; without there being enough time to have changed them from one shot and another. See more »

Connections

Version of Abby in Wonderland (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Alice in Chunderland
28 September 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Who am I?" asks a shabbily dressed, scruffy-haired incarnation of Lewis Carroll's immemorial little girl lost. Of course, the answer's come in various forms ever since such cinematic endeavors as Cecil Hepworth's "Alice in Wonderland," made in 1903 (at 12 minutes, the longest British film of the day; Cecil, you'll remember, two years later made the world's first "dog star" with his monumentally successful "Rescued by Rover," which was shown so many times that the celluloid literally deteriorated, forcing the filmmakers to completely "re-produce" it two more times; his "Alice in Wonderland," unfortunately, did not boast such a success, and thus all we have today is something that looks as though it tumbled down the rabbit hole one too many times). But enough of this sluice at the bottom of the March Hare's treacle well, eh?

Made for the BBC's The Wednesday Play television series, Jonathan Miller's take on the subject matter is, as is traditionally the case, a unique one. With a budget approximating nothing more than his usual "taped stage plays" for which he previously gained great renown (think preter-PBS), Miller decided to illustrate what Alice would have gone through had all of her nonsensical dreams been steeped in the quotidian reality of her ordinary life. There are no talking birds, no storytelling mock turtles, no dormice living in teacups. In fact, short of a crude cut-out superimposition of a very ordinary looking "Cheshire cat" flying in the sky (a la the Teletubbies' eerily omniscient baby in the sun), there's really no special effects or anything that would evince this one of being the least bit chimerical…

… that is, unless you know the story of Alice in Wonderland already. Ostensibly, what Miller is doing here is showing us the curious, towheaded girl's "adventures" set in a world where people merely sound like birds and look like supine caterpillars sitting loftily back in their Victorian chairs and wondering aloud, "Who are you?" Imagine Wizard of Oz, but without all the costumes, flying monkeys, and mercurial trees pulling at the heroine's hair.

Suddenly, we along with Alice find ourselves in a land where we were already (that is, of course, if we were a haughty 11-year-old girl wandering lackadaisically through our castellated house in the late 19th century). What we see is the "reality" of the dreamworld of Alice's waking life.

And this is exactly what Miller captures in this version of the epic "children's" tale for stoners and mathematicians. In fact, the only real sense of "dreamland" we can extract from Miller's vision is a kind of proto-Gilliam realm of canted camera angles and unsettling juxtapositions of close-up faces in deep-focus environments (think Brazil or particularly Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, which clearly owes both its visual and aural style to Mr. Miller). Truthfully, after watching this late 60's stark, black-and-white opus (if ever so disjointed and flawed), one would have to assume that Terry Gilliam took much of his artistic sensibility from what is definitely far more than a simple made-for-TV broadcast.

With a quadrille of British mainstays—Peter Cook as the Mad Hatter, Sir John Gielgud as the Mock Turtle, Alan Bennett as the Mouse, an uncredited Eric Idle, and the King of Hearts himself, Peter Sellers—Jonathan Miller, with lilting, ethereal score by Ravi Shankar, does what no other director has done to date with this timeless urtext: he shows us what would have happened had Alice stayed awake during her infamous tour through dreamland.

PS: If this one doesn't do it for you, try out Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer's nightmarish Alice (1988), which must be the most haunting adaptation of Alice's adventures yet put on celluloid.


7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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