Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Ok, ok, ok. So, Ricktopher was going to write a super awesome post about Alice in Wonderland. Sadly, he recently found himself an unwilling party in a scuffle with a mountain lion and thus has lost his hands and part of his chin. Do keep him in your prayers. I told him I could type his post for him, but he wants to do it himself (and to be fair, I’ve not read the original works and he has). So, while he’s learning to type with his toes, I’m going to post my less interesting, less insightful thoughts on Alice in Wonderland.

MLE’s Thoughts:
2. My sister brought to my attention that when I’m sick,  my nose blowing sounds exactly like the dodo’s does. *cue hilarity in echo-y public bathrooms*

Skip to :20 and :26

3. Uh…I’m not a big fan of the movie.

I’m sure Ricktopher will have more to add. 😀 For myself, I’m more looking forward to our next movie.

Ricktopher (having FINALLY regrown limbs and recovered enough to type):

Alice in Wonderland is basically the story of a girl who doesn’t get it.  She is taken away from the real world to a strange and silly world; one that is nonsensical, yet in fact reflects the real shit going on in the world around her that she’s not paying attention to. Why is she not paying attention? She’s rich and doesn’t need to worry about real shit.

Alice comes from Victorian England. Yes, that same Victorian England that Charles Dickens wrote about. Alice is based on a real girl from a fairly wealthy family where they were afforded the opportunity to live in a fantasy world. Lewis Carroll, a family friend engaged them in this by telling stories, some of which became Alice in Wonderland. Meanwhile many of the kids were living like this kid:


Well, without all the joyful dancing and stuff, and with a lot more hunger and working in mills, etc.

Alice resists being challenged at every turn.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum tell a story about a Walrus and a Carpenter, who use devious tactics to eat trusting baby oysters. The Walrus is like the bourgeoisie who seek to exploit, even consume the lives of the weak for their own gain.  The carpenter is representative of those who act like the oppressor to become like the oppressor, but end up getting the scraps (if that), perhaps the middle class. The oysters are the people.
The  walrus entices them with promises of excitement and glory, but ends up destroying them and gaining from it. Kind of like many wars, when people have been rallied to their destruction by the lure of glory and excitement, while the wealthy stay comfortable and make a profit, consuming from others destruction. …well, that’s my interpretation.

Alice’s interpretation: It only has a moral if you’re an oyster. I’m not an oyster – it doesn’t apply to me. Of course not. 

Alice continues with this condescending attitude.

Believing her whims are more important than being polite, she sneaks away from the Tweedles to chase the White Rabbit again, this time getting stuck in his house by eating a cookie that is not hers and becoming huge as a result.

Now that’s a cookie with a lot of trans fats!

Yo’ Alice is so fat, they had to get a Dodo and the Geico gecko get her out of the house! (SNAP!)

In the fine tradition of Disney recycling characters, the Dodo is essentially like Trelawney from Treasure Island. Again, we can see class being played out in the movie as the Dodo, whose accent reflects the upper classes,  has a lizard, whose cockney accent either says ’15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance’ or that he’s from the lower classes, do his dirty work for him. As the upper-class dodo, having no concern for others property, decides to set fire to the house, she decides to start eating healthily. A diet of carrots, does the trick and she again becomes small enough to leave the house.

Also, Dr Phil’s Ultimate Weight Loss Solution may have had something to do with it…

The thing is that Alice has an eating disorder now that is making her smaller and smaller. She becomes so small she starts seeing all manner of trippy things. She comes across flowers (which are now giant for her) who are eventually whipped into a frenzy believing she is a weed. Despite the very real threat to her life, Alice continues to be condescending, questioning their manners in talking to her.

Possibly the most satisfying moment is when she comes across the hookah smoking caterpillar. The caterpillar sets out to challenge all of her assumptions as well as the idea that she is anybody special. Alice is indignant. It’s pretty great.

Anyway, I won’t bog down in the details of a movie so well known and easily accessible. I’ll try to stick to some highlights.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party features Ed Wynn playing the Mad Hatter, who even seems to have been animated to look like him. The real story behind this is that Ed Wynn is immortal and was actually Lewis Carroll’s original inspiration for the Mad Hatter character. Again, Alice proves herself to be arrogant as well as a hypocrite for not embracing the moment, and instead belittles their party  describing it as the “stupidest tea party I’ve been to in my entire life.”
Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t make it stupid.

Not long after this she decides to go home. Not being able to figure out how, she seems to have a genuine moment of humility, where she recognizes her hypocracy.

The Queen of Hearts seems to characterize the excesses of power. There is also perhaps an allusion to Queen Victoria (the strong leader) and her seemingly passive spouse (Prince Albert). While this scene seems to only show flamingos and hedgehogs being exploited (as croquet mallets and balls respectively), we must also assume that they exploit other animals in other ways.

We must therefore also assume that during the afternoon croquet party, the house band looked something like this.

The climax of the film comes when Alice is tried in a court in which she can not receive any justice. In a moment where she again grows to be quite large, she calls the Queen a “fat, pompous, bad-tempered old tyrant”. (Her anger, of course, reflecting a lack of fat, pompous, bad-tempered old tyrants in the real world?). At the end of the trial, she’s sentenced to death and then all hell breaks loose and she begins to wake up.

In the end, Alice formally rejects any sort of upside down world, being content (as any rich white girl would be) with the status quo. What she does not recognize is that she has escaped a world without justice to a world without justice. Her perception of her world is an idealistic fantasy free of fat pompous tyrants and where she is allowed to feel like she’s more important than most everyone else.  In fact, the challenges, even some of the chaos of wonderland, have given her a taste of the challenges faced by many in the world. Despite glimpses of hope that she will come to some deeper perception of what’s going on, she ends up being a confused, self-absorbed little girl who wants to return to the luxuries of upper-class English life. The world she escaped to is just one where she is able to embrace the luxuries of life, blissfully unaware of the people that have been exploited to make those luxuries possible for her – and that’s ok with her (and it seems that, according to Disney, it should be ok with you, too).

Potent Ponderable:

“Most everyone is mad here.” – Which world is the Cheshire Cat talking about?


Rating:  6/17
Rating versus Joe versus the Volcano: Thumbs down.

Rating:  12/24
Rating versus Joe versus the Volcano: Thumbs down.

2 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland (1951)

  1. This is bloody fantastic!!! Not only flipping hilarious, but also a real eye opener about the ‘thematic concerns’ of the movie. Or your way more awesome interpretation. Incredibly thought provoking. Love the last few comments – especially the Posting Ponderable. Love all of your work.

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