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Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Mark Allington , Alan Bennett  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mark Allington, Alan Bennett, John Bird, Wilfrid Brambell, Peter Cook
  • Format: Black & White, Live, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CG8I8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,627 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Alice in Wonderland" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Director's commentary track
  • Behind-the-scenes stills gallery by world renowned photographer Terence Spencer
  • Cecel Hepworth's 1903 film of Alice in Wonderland
  • Essay by author and critic Wheeler Winston Dixon
  • Music specially composed by Ravi Shankar

Editorial Reviews

Fans of Lewis Carroll's classic novel for children will be fascinated by this startling 1966 interpretation by Jonathan Miller, a noted British theater director. Influenced by surrealism and Victorian architecture, Miller's black-and-white version of Wonderland is a dour and creepy place, not the frenetic and charming bustle usually depicted. A brunette Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) wanders like a sleepwalker, rarely looking anyone in the eye, and has fractured conversations with the likes of the Mad Hatter (Peter Cook, Bedazzled), the Caterpillar (Sir Michael Redgrave, The Lady Vanishes), the Duchess (Leo McKern, Rumpole of the Bailey), and the Mock Turtle (Sir John Gielgud, Brideshead Revisited, Arthur). The result is probably an accurate picture of the adult world seen through a child's eyes--an unsettling and intriguing vision. Also featuring Peter Sellers as the King of Hearts and music by Ravi Shankar. --Bret Fetzer

From the Back Cover

A subversive and haunting retelling of the classic children's story featuring legendary actors Sir Michael Redgrave, Sir John Gielgud, Leo McKern, and satirists Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, and Alan Bennett. This surreal masterpiece was filmed for the BBC by stage and screen director Jonathan Miller. Miller's Victorian Gothic version of "Alice in Wonderland" captures the menacing undertones of Lewis Carroll's story while poking fun at middle-class England.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A VERY odd version of Alice in Wonderland October 26, 2003
If you are expecting a light cartoon version of Alice and Wonderland, you won't get it with this.
This is one of the wierdest versions of the story I have seen yet. It is somewhere between a dream and a nightmare. The story flows like a dream where scenes jump from one spot to another in a sort of almost episodic flow. This version is also a satire of the British aristocracy and culture.
This was made for the BBC as a Christmas special in 1966.
The soundtrack is by Ravi Shankar. The cast is composed of some of the best known names of British comedy and theatre. Among the cast Peter Cook plays the Mad Hatter, Peter Sellers is the King of Hearts, But the real scene stealer is Leo McKern as the Duchess(!).
All in all, this is a pretty dark version of the story. It is also one of the more "British".
The British release also has an 8 minute silent version from 1903, director's comentary, production stills and cast bios. The American release may have more or less of these things.
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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curiouser and Curiouser... January 9, 2004
By jammer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In Lewis Carroll's original work, Alice is a charming, witty and precocious 7-year old, engaging in sparkling point-counter-point exchanges with all manner of strange characters and situations as she wanders from one scene to another, not always predictably and not always to her liking or desire. This reviewer is unfamiliar with Victorian English society of the period, but surely these encounters are brilliantly realized satire, the animal characters selected to portray various characteristics of the nobility and commoners.
So it should be no surprise that this low-budget (£32,000 and a 6-week shooting schedule) 72-minute BBC B&W production is done with all live actors, no animation, yet is faithful to the book. . Quoting from the enclosed folder, "...there was no script; Miller (the director) simply typed out the dialogue from Carroll's book each day and presented it to the cast on the set, and after a few rehearsals, they would do a take." Principal characters are portrayed in human form in Victorian period costume, making full utilization of the Tenniel illustrations where possible. For example, the white rabbit (Wilfred Brambell in an outstanding portrayal) is a fussily dressed, brisk-gaited English gentleman with pocket watch, top hat, braided uniform with tails, bow-tie, white gloves, and a white fan. Alice's dress and hair style is perfectly realized.
Some of the key scenes are shortened. For example, the pool of tears leading to the caucus race (to dry off) was created by a giant Alice crying in frustration, not shown, so the sudden appearance of water is confusing. The recitation of Father Williams to the Caterpillar (an excellent Michael Redgrave) was regrettably truncated to only a verse or so.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suddenly, my favorite May 26, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is the most complex movie rendering of Carroll's classic, and one of the stranger ones. It's a 1966 BBC production in black and white, and done on a shoestring budget. As a result, there's just about nothing in the way of special effects - and certainly no animal-shaped costumes for the dormouse, white rabbit, and all the others. Instead, the characters simply dress in a deliberately over-done Victorian style, probably put together by raiding the stock BBC costume closet.

But what characters! Peter Sellers (who played in other Alice movies as well) is the King of Hearts, Peter Cook is the Mad Hatter, Leo McKern is the Duchess(!), and that's just the start of this star-driven production. Ravi Shankar composed the music and performs much of it, giving an other-worldly sense that fits Carroll's dreamscape perfectly. It's a kind of dream continually on the edge of nightmare without ever quite crossing the line, the same feeling you get when watching "The Prisoner" TV series.

But Alice truly makes the story. Ann-Marie Mallik, in what may be her only acting role, was the perfect choice. She moves through the dream with all the reserve you'd expect of a browbeaten Victorian child, but with all the presence and a little insolence of a woman-child entering her teens. Although she's more observer than participant in most scenes, she conveys a quiet sense of being fully engaged in it all.

This isn't a disneyfied, silly production for children. Nor is it a surreal exaggeration like Jan Svankmajer's (which I also enjoyed). It's a serious and baffling work. In that sense, it's more true to Dodgson's original work than any other Alice I've seen. This one has my highest recommendation.

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared to Be Enthralled and Slightly Baffled February 23, 2004
What a surprise that a gem like this exists!! I had never even heard that this was created until just recently. The 4 previous reviews all have very good points so I won't go into great detail. It is a disjointed affair, but well worth the trouble to delve into. The girl chosen as Alice seems years too old for the role though. If bizarre 60's movies are not something you are into, then I would advise those people against getting it. If you like weird films like Wonderwall or shows like The Prisoner, you may be able to enjoy this film. I find it fascinating and it is highly psychedelic. There is no doubt that this is a 60's take on Alice. Incredible camerawork with much detail put into camera angles and setting really add to the surreality of this work. Leo McKern is hysterical as the Dutchess. Peter Cook and Peter Sellers have some fun with their roles as do all the cast. No one has a very large role. This looks like it was a blast to make and should entertain anyone with an open mind. I would say that it is not geared toward children as many versions of Alice are. Most little kids will be confused and possibly disturbed. This is much more fun for grown-ups. See if you can spot the Monty Python cameo.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is GrEaT!
I like that this was shot in the English countryside without a script and that the events happened in ordinary places. Alice looks absolutely bored throughout the film. Read more
Published on October 16, 2009 by Regina Jeffers
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice as Somnambule
I'm always interested in seeing what other artists can do with Lewis Carroll's iconic character, and this 1966 black-and-white meditation upon Alice in Wonderland is one of the... Read more
Published on February 14, 2009 by Tyro
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty true to the story, however strangely uncatching
Obviously it's not Disney's adventures of Alice in wonderland... but I wasn't looking for it. It follows the original written story pretty well, however being that there aren't any... Read more
Published on April 27, 2008 by A. S. Herry
2.0 out of 5 stars I Hate to Have to Say this, but...
... I found this version of Alice almost unwatchable. Previous reviews well capture this version's character, including its truly fatal flaws. Please read them. Read more
Published on April 11, 2007 by Franz Metcalf
3.0 out of 5 stars A surreal BBC "Wednesday Play"
This is an experimental TV-movie from the BBC's "Wednesday Play" anthology. That series was always willing to risk trying something different, and this ambitious, low-budget... Read more
Published on January 1, 2007 by Steven Capsuto
4.0 out of 5 stars Jonathan's Wonderland
Wolfgang Petersen's superb personal take on Homeric myth and legend is entitled Troy, which makes it perfectly plain that he is not setting out to reproduce the Iliad. Read more
Published on October 4, 2006 by blockhed
5.0 out of 5 stars Odd? Depending on your point of view.
This version of Alice has become one of my favourite all time films. A lot of reviewers have written about how odd Alice seems to have been portrayed in this film, how disconnected... Read more
Published on October 17, 2005 by M Python
2.0 out of 5 stars Alice With Angst
Is it possible to make a version of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice In Wonderland and turn it into an disaster so unbelievable that the sanitized Walt Disney version just seems... Read more
Published on April 9, 2005 by Craig Alan Loewen
2.0 out of 5 stars Most bizarre Alice I've seen
My brother and I have been searching for a black and white version of Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass that we saw on television as children in the 70's and was hoping... Read more
Published on February 17, 2005 by Getting fit in Canada!
3.0 out of 5 stars more peculiar than curiouser
When I read about the particulars of this British TV special I was practically salivating. Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, and music by Ravi Shankar at the height of 1966... Read more
Published on January 11, 2005 by Heavy Theta
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