ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Alice in Wonderland has been adapted and reinterpreted for the big and small screen so many times some 60+ adaptations (see below) that one wonders what yet another version of the story has to offer that is new or unsaid. Nick Willing certainly makes a solid attempt to bring the various Wonderland characters to life using animatronics and CGI (something that, to ones knowledge, had not been employed on Lewis Carrolls creations prior to this unless you count Dreamchild (1985), the Alice Liddell biopic). Willing also endeavours to give the story a certain dramatic push, although there is the feeling at the end that the mini-series is ultimately only a series of picaresque episodes as Alice encounters various Wonderland characters. The mini-series freely mixes aspects of both Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Lewis Carrolls sequel Through the Looking Glass (1871) from which it imports a number of characters such as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, The White Knight and the encounter with the Garden of Live Flowers.
The best aspect of the mini-series is the wonderfully imaginative production design, including the White Rabbits house that folds up into a giant pop-up book, the woods that come in golden-lit hues with checkerboard patterned grass trails, and the courtroom that is designed like a giant deck of cards. All the creatures the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, the flamingos and hedgehogs, the Gryphon, the White Rabbit are given wonderful life by the Jim Henson Creature Workshop. Particularly surreal is the Lobster Quadrille dance, which offers up the bizarre sight of dancing porpoises, snails and lobsters.
As usual with most live-action productions of Alice of Wonderland, the mini-series serves as an opportunity for a huge line-up of well-known actors to regard the production as a variety show where they put on funny costumes and engage in pantomime performances. The best of these is the Mad Hatters Tea Party, which is played with a much more disturbed and demented undertow than it usually is in other adaptations, with Martin Shorts wonderfully malicious performance as the Mad Hatter being a standout. Christopher Lloyd plays with a surprising dignity as the White Knight, while the usually irritating and over-the-top Gene Wilder surprises as The Mock Turtle during the lovely Beautiful Soup number. As the Red Queen, the great Miranda Richardson gives a performance that is delivered entirely in a falsetto shriek. Tina Majorino is surprisingly plain choice for the role of Alice.
The other screen adaptations of Alice in Wonderland are:- Alice in Wonderland (1903), a silent British short; Alices Adventures in Wonderland (1910), a silent American short; Alice in Wonderland (1915); Alice Through the Looking Glass (1928); Alice in Wonderland (1931), the first sound version; Paramounts Alice in Wonderland (1933) with an all-star cast of the day including W.C. Fields, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper; the partly stop-motion animated French Alice in Wonderland (1949); the classic Disney animated version Alice in Wonderland (1951); the NBC tv version Alice in Wonderland (1955); the modernised Hanna-Barbera animated tv special Alice in Wonderland, or Whats a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1966); the NBC tv production Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966); the all-star British film Alices Adventures in Wonderland (1972) featuring Michael Crawford, Ralph Richardson, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Dudley Moore; the BBC tv production Alice Through the Looking Glass (1974); the Italian tv mini-series In the World of Alice (1974); a 1976 Argentinean film version; a pornographic version Alice in Wonderland (1976); a Spanish film version Alice in Spanish Wonderland (1979); the Belgian film Alice (1982), which features equivalents of the Wonderland characters in the modern world; a US tv production Alice in Wonderland (1982); a US tv version Alice at the Palace (1982) with Meryl Streep as Alice; a BBC musical version A Dream of Alice (1982) with Jenny Agutter as Alice; a British tv series Alice in Wonderland (1985); Irwin Allens all-star tv mini-series Alice in Wonderland (1985) featuring Roddy McDowall, Telly Savalas and Shelley Winters; a BBC tv series Alice in Wonderland (1986); the animated Alice Through the Looking Glass (1987); having been combined with the Care Bears in the animated The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987); Jan Svankmajers bizarrely brilliant Claymation animated Alice (1988); Woody Allens modernised urban spin Alice (1990); the US tv series Alice in Wonderland (1991); the British tv version Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) with Kate Beckinsale as Alice and an all-star cast; Alices Misadventures in Wonderland (2004), a modernised indie film take on the story; Alice (2009), a modernised tv mini-series starring Caterina Scorsone as Alice entering into a dark science-fictional wonderland; Malice in Wonderland (2009), a modernised British film that translates Wonderland into an urban environment; Alice in Murderland (2010), an Alice in Wonderland-themed slasher film; Tim Burtons big budget Alice in Wonderland (2010) and its sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016); Alyce (2011), another modernised urban translation; the modernised tv series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013-4); and The Other Side of the Mirror/Alice: The Darker Side of the Mirror (2016), a dark retelling. Also of note is Dennis Potters tv play Alice (1965), which explores Lewis Carrolls relationship with Alice Liddell, the young girl who became the model for Alice, and the later film Dreamchild (1985) in which the real-life Alice reminisces back on her memories of Lewis Carroll and the writing of the story.
Hallmarks other productions of genre interest are: the sf mini-series White Dwarf (1995), The Canterville Ghost (1996), Gullivers Travels (1996), Harvey (1996), the Christmas musical Mrs Santa Claus (1996), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1996), the childrens horror Shadow Zone: The Undead Express (1996), the medical thriller Terminal (1996), The Odyssey (1997), the cloning thriller The Third Twin (1997), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997), the monster movie Creature (1998), Merlin (1998), the sf film Virtual Obsession (1998), Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1999), Animal Farm (1999), A Christmas Carol (1999), the tv series Farscape (1999-2003), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1999), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Magical Land of the Leprechauns (1999), Arabian Nights (2000), the modernised Hamlet (2000), Jason and the Argonauts (2000), Prince Charming (2000), the mini-series The 10th Kingdom (2000) set in an alternate world where fairy-tales are true, the medical thriller Acceptable Risk (2001), The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (2001), Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001), The Monkey King/The Lost Empire (2001), My Life as a Fairytale: Hans Christian Andersen (2001), Snow White (2001), the series Tales from the Neverending Story (2001), the fantasy adventure Voyage of the Unicorn (2001), the Sherlock Holmes film The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire (2002), Dinotopia (2002), The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002), the Christmas film Mr St. Nick (2002), the Christmas film Santa Jr (2002), Snow Queen (2002), the modernised A Carol Christmas (2003), Children of Dune (2003), the American Indian legends mini-series Dreamkeeper (2003), the childrens monster film Monster Makers (2003), Angel in the Family (2004), A Christmas Carol (2004), Earthsea (2004), 5ive Days to Midnight (2004) about forewarning of the future, Frankenstein (2004), King Solomons Mines (2004), the Christmas film Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus (2004), Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone (2005), Hercules (2005), the thriller Icon (2005), Meet the Santas (2005), Mysterious Island (2005), the disaster mini-series Supernova (2005), The Curse of King Tuts Tomb (2006), the disaster mini-series The Final Days of Planet Earth (2006), Merlins Apprentice (2006), the bird flu disaster mini-series Pandemic (2006), the disaster mini-series 10:15 Apocalypse (2006), the psychic drama Carolina Moon (2007), the psychic drama Claire (2007) and the ghost story Something Beneath (2007).