Due to World War II, Walt Disney was forced to undertake projects that were really a collection of shorts rather than real, coherent feature-length films. These projects would later be grouped into Walt Disney’s “package era,” which were unpopular at the time and are still relatively unknown today. Package era films include Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and Make Mine Music. After revisiting Alice in Wonderland, I don’t want to see these package films because that’s exactly what I see in this movie: a package of shorts rather than a real, coherent feature-length film. As Dave Kehr from Chicago Reader said:
The Disney version lightens and sweetens Lewis Carroll’s tale, but what’s really disappointing is the undistinguished animation: the film looks and plays more like the Disney shorts than the Disney features.
Alice’s wonderland was supposed to provide us, well… with a wonderland, but it’s unimpressive even from an animation standpoint. While Dumbo provided strange imagery that helped make its audience feel something, Alice’s imagination stops at being strange—there’s no heart in her dreams. And I’m not talking about the typical Disney dreams; Alice is literally dreaming all of this up. It would seem like this would be an opportune time for Disney to show off his creativity, but the animation is really lacking, barring the Queen’s castle.
Animation technique wouldn’t be the first thing I critique unless it was basically the only thing to critique. Once again, the film plays like Disney shorts, so no resemblance of a coherent plot exists. The film doesn’t aim to give us interesting or complex characters; Alice could literally be replaced by a cardboard box and I wouldn’t have noticed. The film simply aims at being strange, and while I guess it accomplishes its not-so-lofty goals, it does so in an unimpressive manner. Nobody listens to each other in this film. I mean, just take a look at the script:
Cheshire Cat: Oh, by the way, if you’d really like to know, he went that way.
Alice: Who did?
Cheshire Cat: The white rabbit.
Alice: He did?
Cheshire Cat: He did what?
Alice: Went that way?
Cheshire Cat: Who did?
Alice: The white rabbit!
Cheshire Cat: What rabbit?
Alice: But didn’t you just say… I mean… oh dear!
Cheshire Cat: Can you stand on your head?
I mean, this is strange all right, but why am I watching this? Why should anybody be watching this? The animation isn’t Disney, the protagonist’s dreams have been literalized for no apparent reason, the characters all blur together into one bizarre personality, and worst of all, this movie isn’t even fun. In the end, Alice realizes that maybe her dreams aren’t all she thought they would be, and cries on two instances. It’s painful to watch not because I was invested in her dreams, but because it’s a little girl crying who just wants to go back home. This film is no fun to watch, no fun to see, and does not ever merit its existence as an adaption of Lewis Carroll’s tale. Please, let Alice wake up!