Quite possibly the strangest of the Alice in Wonderland movies I've seen. A lot of that thanks to the really bizarre stop motion puppets that inhabit "Wonderland" in this film created by Bunin Puppets.
Some of you Hammer Horror films might recognize Carol Marsh who would later go on to play Lucy in The Horror of Dracula starring Christopher Lee. Since I associate her so closely with that film, I half expected Peter Cushing to appear out of nowhere and burn her forehead with a crucifix.
20 years old when she played the role, Ms. Marsh was quite possibly the oldest Alice to date.
The film itself did garner some controversy. Apparently, Disney got their pantaloons in a bunch over the British company releasing their version around the same time Uncle Walt was releasing his. Disney even went so far to sue the British company to prevent them releasing theirs in the United States.
Incidentally, both film did poorly in the United States.
The film itself starts in a very similar way to it's 1972 counterpart, with the real-life Lewis Carroll telling the real life Alice Liddell about her adventures in Wonderland. They even go so far to mention in the film some of the real life historical figures who the key characters such as the Red Queen and the White Rabbit were based on.
As someone who enjoys animation a great deal, I found the blending of the live action Alice with the stop-motion puppets to be a very intriguing combination. Even some of the camera techniques the filmmakers used to blend the live actor with the animated characters to be very cleverly done given the obvious limitations to the visual effects they could achieve. And Carol Marsh wasn't bad as Alice.
Unfortunately, the film just did not captivate me on a whole. There were far too many scenes (especially the beginning) that were just too long long and drawn out. And the background visuals just reminded me of some of the public service messages I used to see on UHF Channels back in the 1980's. I suppose the filmmakers were trying to go for a storybook feel. But the flat backgrounds just did not grab me.
Both the very limited animation and visual effects were just too jarring to watch after a while.
Some of this could very well be that the quality of film has wased out and aged so poorly. Much like the '72 Alice, the only copies that of this film that are available on DVD are public domain versions. A lot of the time these films are re-released to cash in on a big budget version of the film being released. So they try and release every single version they can possibly find.
However, in the case of the '72 Alice, despite the age of the film, it's still enjoyable to watch. I just found myself losing interest after a while.
It's really the type of film for those who are fans of Lewis Carroll's classic story or from a film history point of view. Otherwise I think most will just find it very slow and tedious. And much like Alice, you may find yourself nodding off.
Up next: Alice from the Silent Era...