by Leah Sottile
For me, there was always something so recognizable about Alice: a girl who was bored by schoolwork and occupied by her nonsensical dreams, who loved her cat and who had trouble resisting substances that make you grow and shrink.
As a child, my taped-from-television version of Alice in Wonderland was in continual rotation from the moment I learned to use my family's VCR. I didn't care about the commercials interspersed throughout or the highlights of a Jets game that my Dad taped over the first few minutes -- the story, the colors and the true imagination of the story were enough to captivate me for days.
Now in a two-disc DVD set, Alice in Wonderland is a throwback to the earliest days when Disney was producing humorous films out of classic family stories. Aside from an enhanced version of the original animated classic, the set contains old Disney shows, kids' games and extra songs about the Cheshire Cat and the Jabberwock that were cut when the movie was finalized.
However, what makes this DVD seem like the best $22 you've ever spent comes in the second disc. The additional disc contains an 11-minute featurette in which Walt Disney himself walks a reporter through the process of making Alice in Wonderland from storyboard to rough sketches to final animation. This includes a segment that shows the actual artists sketching Alice, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare from live actors dressed as the animated characters -- a time-tested process comparable to the special effects footage of Gollum included in The Lord of the Rings DVDs. In this case, watching Ed Wynn (the Mad Hatter) and Jerry Colonna (the March Hare) act out the Mad Tea Party alters the whole meaning of the scene. Something that I had always enjoyed as a child suddenly changed to classic slapstick humor that made me laugh -- but now, as an adult.
While the film itself will draw your children close to the TV, the rest of the DVD is a tribute to the genius of Disney days gone by. With short cartoons featuring every classic Disney character from Snow White to Donald Duck, Coca-Cola and General Electric commercials from the 1950s and early black-and-white television shows, this DVD has just as much, if not more, for the older generations of Disney fans.
Publication date: 03/11/04