DVD
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Starring: Fiona Fullerton, Michael Crawford, Dudley Moore, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan
Oracle Home Entertainment
RRP: 16.99
ORA343
Certificate: U
Available 24 April 2005


Alice is listening to a story told by Lewis Carroll when a white rabbit runs by. Alice follows the rabbit down a hole and then falls deep in to the centre of the earth. Thus begins an extraordinary adventure for Alice as she goes onto meet a variety of weird and wonderful characters including Caterpillar, the squabbling twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee, a Countess and her grinning Cheshire Cat, and the mad Hatter and his two Tea Party guests, the March Hare, the Dormouse, and the Queen of Hearts who demands instant decapitation for anyone who annoys here. Can Alice keep her head when everyone around her seem to be losing theirs?...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a British movie from 1972 which, to be honest, for its time was a lavish production with some great sets and costumes. In fact, it's not unfair to say that it had a stab at being the British Wizard of Oz... Sure it falls short of the mark, but there are a lot of similarities - the lavish sets and costumes for starters.

Part of the fun of this movie was trying to work out who was behind the animal masks. No prizes for guessing who played the White Rabbit (Michael Crawford), the March Hare (Peter Sellers), the dormouse (Dudley Moore) or the Gryphon (Spike Milligan). But it took me a while to recognise Rodney Bewes as the Knave of Hearts, Roy Kinnear as the Cheshire Cat and Dennis Waterman as the 2 of Spades (thankfully he didn't write the theme toon or sing the theme toon - sorry couldn't help that Little Britain reference).

Oddly enough though none of the casting seemed that inspired. Michael Crawford sounded, on occasion, like his Frank Spencer character from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em; Dudley Moore and Peter Sellers don't really do anything interesting with their characters; and Spike Milligan sounded like he was about to break into Ying Tong at any second and half of his words were incomprehensible Goon-like gibberish.

In fact, the one true bit of interesting casting was that of twins Frank and Fred Cox as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They fit the parts fantastically and their choreography is stunningly surreal. In fact, I have to say that they were also the best thing about the whole production. That's not to say that Fiona Fullerton's Alice is bad - far from it. In fact, I'd stick my neck out and say that she is probably the best Alice that has ever been committed to celluloid - it's just that she's a rather dull character.

Other interesting (possibly) bits of information include the fact that the Mad Hatter is played by Robert Helpmann, who also played the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; and Stanley Bates, who appears here as a monkey, was also Rainbow's Bungle the bear (he was also a writer on Rainbow). Patsy Rowlands, who Carry On fans will remember with affection, also makes an appearance as the cook.

But it was while watching this movie that I realised what a total fraud Lewis Carroll was. Alice in Wonderland is an appallingly dull tale. Why is it seen as a classic? I'd put any of Roald Dahl's tales before Carroll's rather bland affair any day. And sadly, as this production is a pretty faithful adaptation of Carroll's work, it means that it too is a rather dull affair.

The picture quality is appalling - not helped by the fact that this isn't an anamorphic transfer which means that widescreen viewers have to zoom in to get the picture to fit their screens). It only looks marginally better than a VHS copy which is a real shame. Add to that the fact that there are no extras, apart from the book, and you can be forgiven for grumbling a little.

If you already own this on VHS I wouldn't recommend buying this DVD to replace it, unless you want to see it in widescreen (apparently the first time this has been released to buy in this format).

Sadly this is a substandard release of a very average movie.

Amber Leigh

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cover
£12.74 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
£14.49 (MVC.co.uk)
   
£12.99 (Moviemail-online.co.uk)

All prices correct at time of going to press.