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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and good-looking TV film for the family!
In 1999, NBC broadcast a new version of Alice in Wonderland, created by the same folks who produced Gulliver's Travels, Merlin, and Noah's Ark. This star-studded version had Tina Majorino (from Waterworld) as a winsome Alice, and other stars like Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat, Miranda Richardson (Crying Game) as a rather high-pitched, shrill Queen of Hearts, and...
Published on October 5, 2000 by Ed N

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply Awful
The latest movie version of Lewis Caroll's Alice books is a great example of what happens when someone makes a movie of a book which they obviously didn't understand. Calling this film anything less than butchery is a travesty. NBC's Alice in Wonderland manages to turn Caroll's story into the very thing that it mocked.
The Alice books were meant to poke fun at...
Published on January 19, 2002 by malachix

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and good-looking TV film for the family!, October 5, 2000
Ed N "Ed" (Kensington, Maryland USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
In 1999, NBC broadcast a new version of Alice in Wonderland, created by the same folks who produced Gulliver's Travels, Merlin, and Noah's Ark. This star-studded version had Tina Majorino (from Waterworld) as a winsome Alice, and other stars like Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat, Miranda Richardson (Crying Game) as a rather high-pitched, shrill Queen of Hearts, and Martin Short as a very amusing Mad Hatter. There are plenty of other stars, of course, but these are the ones you will notice the most. This particular production is a loose adaptation, really. It incorporates portions of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. And it adds a new twist - Alice runs after the White Rabbit not out of curiosity from boredom but rather to escape from having to sing a song in front of many strangers at her parents' party. Her adventures in Wonderland as thus partially about how she summons the courage to overcome this stage-fright, and when she does, she returns to the real world. In the meantime, we see the usual interesting episodes in Wonderland - the Mad Tea Cup party, the croquet match, Twiddledee and Twiddledum, the trial of tarts, the Duchess and her baby pig and cheshire cat, etc. There are even a few songs scattered here and there in the film - the songs, for the most part, are nothing special but they do not distract much from the movie (some folks may also remember a 4-hour TV miniseries on the Alice books, filled with songs, from the 1980s; this was also star-studded and probably more faithful to the books but the songs were annoying).
The best thing about this new Alice film are the special effects. They are amazing and create a most bizarre, surreal, and colorful version of Wonderland. This makes the film great fun to look at. Also, Tina Majorino does a great job as Alice, and we really grow to really like her and sympathize for her as the film progresses. Martin Short, as I mentioned, is pretty funny, too. This is definitely a film the whole family can enjoy, and there is nothing offensive in the film at all. If you liked this film when you first saw it on TV, purchase it! I did! Currently, it sells for less than 10 dollars on some internet sites! Quite a bargain.
Finally, just a few words on the DVD itself. The colors are superb and the picture quality is clear and outstanding. Sound quality is quite good - it won't give the subwoofers any workout, but nonetheless, it sounds very good for a TV broadcast. Extras on the disc include the usual suspects - film production notes, cast notes, trailer, close captioning (instead of subtitles). There is also a small section showing the original illustrations of the Alice books, and lastly, a small section about the inspiration for the Alice books (quite informative for those who do not know about the real-life inspiration for Alice).
So, all in all, the DVD is worth the purchase and makes for many fun re-watching sessions for the kids. A good family recommendation!
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Issues but Still the Best Alice Movie, May 30, 2005
This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
If you are reading this you are probably trying to decide if this 'Alice' adaptation is worth watching or you may have already watched it and are wondering about the reaction of other viewers.

It is the most faithful (to the book) adaptation so far (faint praise as most efforts might as well have been original screenplays) and the sets, special effects, make-up and Muppets are light-years better than what others have tried.

But all is not right with this version of 'Wonderland' so Carroll fans should not get their hopes up too high. The adaptation involves some subtraction and a lot of addition (or as the Mock Turtle would say some 'Ambition and Distraction'). Unfortunately what was added does not begin to compensate for what was left out, it only pads the running length.

They added three scenes from 'Through the Looking Glass'. Stuck between the 'Lobster Quadrille' and the 'Who Stole the Tarts' chapters are: 'Tweedledum and Tweedledee', 'The Walrus and The Carpenter', and 'It's My Own Invention' with the White Knight. So the original story takes a not very entertaining detour-although the Walrus-Carpenter bits are fun and it is interesting to see a pre-Hagrid Robbie Coltrane as Tweedledum. Fortunately they group the three scenes together and it is not as disruptive as placing them separately at different points in the story.

Historically, the model for the characters are the illustrations that Carroll commissioned John Tenniel to carve on wood blocks. Although Carroll based the personality of his title character on ten-year-old brunette Alice Liddell, Tenniel used another model and gave the illustrated Alice her features and her long blonde hair. Although the movie generally deferred to Tenniel's illustrations, they made a critical error in casting Tina Majorino as Alice. She was 13-14 during the filming and looks ludicrous in the role. She was also quite homely at that age and you are thankful that the director used mostly wide shots so you don't have her face filling the screen. Thankfully her acting is so flat that she does not call much attention to herself. But the overall effect would have been so much better if they had used a younger actress (could they have made it three years earlier and used a 10-11 year-old Kiera Knightley).

The movie works in spite of a poor Alice, in large part because of the other major deviation from the Tenniel look. That would be casting Miranda Richardson as the Queen of Hearts. Instead of a fat and ugly queen we get a delicately beautiful one, and a hauntingly over-the-top performance. But it works because the performance is consistent with Carroll's idea of the queen as: 'a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion-a blind and aimless Fury'.

And in her surreal make-up you can't take your eyes off Richardson (you literally focus on her face and see nothing else that is in the frame). Her performance was so inspired that she has been playing fairy tale queens ever since.

All the Muppet characters are excellent but for some reason they made Bill the Lizard a man instead of a muppet lizard. Did the producer owe someone a favor? Bill's scene at the Rabbits's House is the third best in the movie; only the croquet match and the trial are better.

And they messed with Carroll's dialogue for no useful purpose or discernible logic. For example they kept all the 'Mock Turtle's' puns, which are hard to follow even in print, while deleting some of the best lines from Alice's scene with the 'Cheshire Cat'; and the tea-party dialogue (and editing) is a shambles. You can't always tell when an original line was omitted but you can tell when something was added by the hack they hired to do the adaptation-all are stupid and some so modern that they are like hearing an off-key note on a flute.

Carroll's dialogue and Alice's thoughts are really the essence of the story.

Someday a director will shoot this thing with mega-reaction shots of Alice (played by a pleasing looking 'young' actress) and with voiceovers of her thoughts-then we will have something that really communicates Alice's curiosity, courage, kindness, intelligence, dignity, and sense of justice. Most important is to communicate her simple wonder (the only wonder about Majorino is how she got the role). The reader was meant to identify with these qualities but only Disney's Alice effectively exhibited them. It's sad when it is easier to identify with the book and with a cartoon Alice than with any of the actresses who have played the role.

Although some part of each chapter is included (Down the Rabbit-Hole, The Pool of Tears, The Caucus-Race, Little Bill, Advice from a Caterpillar, Pig and Pepper, A Mad Tea-Party, The Queen's Croquet-Ground, The Mock Turtle's Story, The Lobster Quadrille, Who Stole the Tarts, and Alice's Evidence), the bookend pieces of the story where Alice is not dreaming are missing. Instead there is a 'Wizard of Oz' kind of scene with the actors out of costume, playing guests at a garden party. This is done entirely to tie in with the writer's annoyingly artless addition of a preachy "the show must go on" theme which works to deflate each scene in which it is inserted.

This is the only unforgivable change to the story. Wonderland was not a process of self-discovery or personal development, it was a gift to the real Alice (and to future children) and should always end with the thoughts of Alice's older sister after hearing the details of the dream: 'Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman, and how she would keep, through all the years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days'. This is Carroll telling us why he made up the story.

Bottom line it is the best of the Alice films, a little too long but still worth watching-especially for the Miranda Richardson scenes.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT A CARTOONISH VERSION, June 22, 2006
This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
Lewis Carrol,when entertaining the liddel children one summer came up with a rather novel little story in which Alice Liddel would find herself in"wonderland",a place not entirely unlike Victorian England,but odd and charming(which 19th century England was not)...later Carrol(who was in fact the ,an Oxford Don,noted photographer,and local celebrity),would fill out the story told to little Alice Liddel and the charming"alice through the looking glass"was born..Apparently the book itself is no longer read,inasmuchas most of the reviews of this,the only really faithful adaptation of the work,compare it badly to the cartoon version by Disney...Carrol's humour was always grounded in 19th century current events,and many of the curious little poems included in the work were not so much"nonsense"as they were clever adaptations of events and personalities of the time period...The fact that young children,like Alice Liddel(then about ten years old) could recognise the grown-up aspects of the Carrol story while at the same time being entertained says much for the level of education given children then(and says much about the ABSENCE of such education now)..If one wants an entertaining,but largely gutted version of "Alice in wonderland" one should skip this film and opt for the Disney is slick and uncompicated,and requires no thinking whatsover,a perfect film for the MTV generation...If ,on the other hand,YOU HAVE ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK,and want a film that reflects what Carrol actually wrote,then skip Disney & buy THIS won't be disappointed...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
This movie is great.It's lots of fun and there are great actors and actresses including Whoopi Goldberg ( Cheshire Cat),Martin Short ( Mad Hatter),Gene Wilder ( Turtle) and Miranda Richardson ( Queen of Hearts). This movie is a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Thru the Looking Glass ( Lewis Carroll's sequel).I found it a little weird at some points but grew to love the movie.It is a musical at certain scenes.Many people I know enjoy this movie and even parents enjoy this movie!Definately a good movie to see !
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well-done and faithful rendition of Carroll's story, July 7, 1999
By A Customer
I saw this version (and taped it) when it aired on TV in February. I thought it was very good. I just read Lewis Carroll's book and saw it again. (I have now read a couple of chapters of Through the Looking-Glass) It was very faithful, at least to the first book. (I don't know about the second one yet.) I thought most of the actors did a pretty good job. Tina Majorino was okay, and even though the scenes with Martin Short as the Mad Hatter and Miranda Richardson as the Queen of Hearts go on too long, they're good for a few laughs. Many of the other "stars", such as Whoopi Goldberg as the Chesire Cat and Gene Wilder as the Mock Turtle, did well, also. It was a nice touch to have almost all the characters in WOnderland really be people at the party in the beginning, since in the book I kind of wondered why she picked those characters to dream about. The special effects and design were very well-done, too. All-around enjoyable fare. Hopefully the video won't edit out stuff that was on TV, like they did with the video version of Merlin. Lucky for me, I taped it (Alice in Wonderland, not Merlin) when it was on TV.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
Every time Lewis Carroll's immortal classics, Alice's adventures in wonderland and through the looking glass, get told again the risk is run that something will be lacking. After all, how many different ways can a story be told? How many different sides are there to a mushroom?
Just so. While the story remains unchanged over the years the innovations employed in the telling make it what it is.
And this is one of the best adaptations that I have ever seen. Sure there's Disney and the innovations there but the real trick is taking a fantasy like this and telling it with animation as a support and not whole enchilada.
Combine Carroll's classic story with the magic of Jim Henson's Creature Shop and add wonderful performances by Martin Short as the Mad Hatter, Gene Wilder as the Mock Turtle, Peter Ustinov and Pete Postlethwaite as the Walrus and the Carpenter, Christopher Lloyd as the White Knight, Ben Kingsley as the Caterpillar/Butterfly, and Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat and you have a made-for-TV production that could have done very well on the big screen.
Care was also taken to ensure that the original illustrations of Carroll's books were faithfully adapted. The March Hare is a prime case in point.
Tina Majorino (Andre) is superb as Alice and the story is as engaging and imaginative as ever. A must have for any video collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MiNd WhiRLiNg FaNtAsY ;)!#@%$!, August 26, 2006
This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
What a trip!!.. i just love this adaptation; although it wasn't the same as the book (maybe some lines were). The plot was a little altered in the sense that she enters wonderland to overcome her fear of performing in public, but it doesn't matter. The performing was good specially whoopy goldberg as cheshire cat, Martin Short as mad hatter (my fave), Ben kingsley as caterpillar and the tweedle brothers. For a 1999 version, the visual effects were awesome (in my opinion)and this is what i like the most. The bright colors and visual mind altering eye candished style makes you go with Alice to wonderland!!.. jeje. Anyway, i fully recomend this version if you like tripity sense of nonsense and love lewis carroll mind whoobling imagination.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Alice Reviews... :>, October 12, 2012
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This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
This is one in a series of reviews that will eventually be posted for every Alice in Wonderland title available on Amazon. When the Tim Burton rendition of AIW with Johnny Depp was due out in 2010 I thought it might be a good time to go back and watch the benchmark Walt Disney production from 1951, which I saw -or assumed I saw- as a child. It was a chance to get reacquainted with the many varied characters from the story as sort of a warm up for the Burton film. Upon viewing the Disney classic I was astonished to realize that I had likely never seen more than a few clips (at most) of that beautifully rendered Alice in Wonderland. So much seemed brand new. Nor did I have a memory of ever seeing any other "Alice" production. Then I realized that I had never read the book! Wait a minute. Where then did my memory of the Alice story come from? The curiosity sparked by that question ultimately led me over the next two years to accumulate every version of Alice in Wonderland still in existence. Well over 40 by the way!

This general commentary continues over in the review sections for both the 1951 AIW production from Walt Disney (Alice in Wonderland (Masterpiece Edition)) and the 2010 production starring Johnny Depp (Alice in Wonderland). As these are the two most well known Alice's, rather then attempt to add yet-another-review for those two films, it seemed like it might be a more fun use of the provided space to muse a bit on the popularity and remarkable longevity of the story spawned by Lewis Carroll in 1865, as well as to share with you a bit of what I picked up while watching these 40 or so renderings of Alice in Wonderland. All other Alice productions listed by Amazon have a specific review for that title.

Review of this 1999 production of Alice in Wonderland...
The 90's was a good decade for Alice. In 1993 an interpretive dance of Alice in Wonderland was performed by the Prague Chamber Ballet (ALICE IN WONDERLAND: A Dance Fantasy). In the same year a hilarious takeoff on AIW was rendered as an installment of the `Hello Kitty" cartoon series (Hello Kitty & Friends, Vol. 3: Timeless Tales), which was followed by another hilarious cartoon version in 1995 done in anime (Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland). Also in 1995 there was yet another, although more sober, rendering of AIW in cartoon form (Alice in Wonderland (Jetlag Productions)). And in 1998 we were treated to one of the most accurate visual manifestations of Carroll's second Alice book `Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There' (Alice Through the Looking Glass).

This Alice movie under review works well on so many levels I don't know where to begin. Actually I think the place to begin is where the movie does NOT work. Let's get the negatives out of the way because there are so many positives to comment on. As an audience we have to accept that every single Alice movie ever made departs from the book to one degree or another. It's just a question of degree. But even with the acknowledgment that a dead reckoning of the book is not feasible, I've noticed a pattern in many Alice films whereby the producers/writers veered away from the book for no apparent reason. One or more of Alice's encounters with the creatures of Wonderland are dropped, other characters are made up, elements of a scene are arbitrarily changed, passages from 'Looking Glass' are blended into the original story, the story is adapted as a musical, and most important: dialog is altered. In some cases these changes can be accepted as a function of the many tradeoffs required to get the film made in the first place. But it's the completely unnecessary alterations, especially to the core Lewis Carroll dialog between Alice and the Wonderland creatures that are hard to accept. Replacing the precious nonsensical Carroll dialog with some writers idea of what would work better is in and of itself nonsensical. Unfortunately this great movie fell to the spell of this dialog disaster. Now on to the positives...

Of all the Alice films made since the first one in 1903 I've never really seen the characters from the book brought to life quite like this. Kudos to Jim Henson's Creature Shop for rendering John Tenniel's drawings as animatronic based Wonderland characters. The deserved their Emmy for this effort.

With regard to the performances, if there ever was an actor born to play the Mad Hatter it has to be Martin Short. In fact, Short's real life middle name is `Hayter'!! The man literally becomes what you could imagine the Mad Hatter to be like. I mean, you look at his interpretation of the character and go, `Yeah, so that's the Mad Hatter'. Martin's appearance is quite similar to Tenniel's illustration of the character. The Hatter's sidekick, the March Hare, is one of the standout animatronics characters. Together they make the Tea Party scene one of the funnest to view.

I also really enjoyed Gene Wilder's rendition of the Mock Turtle. One of the most pathetic Mock Turtles to date, which is great because the character is indeed pathetic as written. And props must be offered up to Tina Majorino, who at the age of 14 absolutely nailed the Alice role (she also played the young girl in Water World). I was a bit dubious of Tina at first, but after a few minutes all doubts were dispelled. Just as with Kate Beckinsale's performance in `Alice: Through the Looking Glass' the previous year, you can literally see Tina thinking as she works to decode the puzzle of Wonderland. Anyway, this is just a smattering of the notable performers in this well put together cast.

The movie starts off as several of the Wonderland film adaptations do; with a 'Wizard of Oz' style opening whereby characters from Alice's real life world become the characters of her Wonderland dream. The story actually keeps time to a theme set up in this opening where we have Alice suffering from stage fright. Her journey through Wonderland endows her with the self-confidence needed to not only pull off her real life performance, but to act on her intuition as well. This of course is an added layer of story telling not part of the book. Although purists [rightfully] object to this addition, I didn't find it all that distracting.

One of the other liberties taken was to fold a few scenes from `Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There' into the main AIW story. This is common and has been done at least as far back as the 1933 Hollywood film starring Charlotte Henry. In fact this production mimics the 1933 film in that Alice temporarily steps out of Wonderland, experiences several Looking Glass encounters (in this case they cut from the Lobster Quadrille to having Alice step through a mirror and meet the White Knight, talk to the Garden of Live Flowers, watch the Tweedles enact the Walrus and the Carpenter poem), and then gets called back to wonderland for the tart trial. The Looking Glass scenes were all well done though. I thought the Walrus and the Carpenter poem enactment in particular was a stroke of genius.

The courtroom for the trial is lavishly laced with a playing card motif. It is one of the best renderings of the courtroom I've witnessed to date. The costuming of the Red King and Queen is also the best I've seen since the rare 1932 American version with Ruth Gilbert (available on EBay). I must paraphrase what a reviewer stated on IMDB, that in this scene the logic of the trial is as flimsy as the house of cards it takes place in. :>

What else? A nice bonus with this edition of AIW is the inclusion of the puppy sequence. This is the first Alice I've seen where they reproduced the puppy that Alice runs into upon shrinking herself and escaping from the rabbit's house. Another first is the rendering of the table in the Hall of Doors as 100% glass, as described in the book.

Enjoy this very kid friendly version of Alice in Wonderland!

All the Alice reviews in this series are on Listmania:
1) Click on my user name
2) Click on 'Listmania!'
3) Then click on See 'Entire List'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER VERSION OF ALICE, January 8, 2010
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This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
My DVD finally arrived, and today I had the opportunity to watch it. This Alice in Wonderland movie version came out in 1999, and stars a number of familiar actors. Whoopi Goldberg plays the Cheshire Cat, Miranda Richardson is The Queen of Hearts, Ben Kingsley fills the role of Major Caterpillar, Martin Short is the Mad Hatter, and Tina Majorino is Alice.

Tina's Alice was a departure from the cartoon version of Alice. While the Disney rendition showed a very happy-go-lucky Alice, cavorting and enjoying the adventures, Tina's Alice is more realistic, I think. First of all, this actor has a very expressive face, and as each unexpected event occurred in the movie, her eyebrows reflected every emotion--from fear, to concern, to puzzlement. As she met the characters, there was a certain amount of skepticism conveyed in her expression, as she tried to make sense of it all.

I won't go into the plot or story, as these are familiar to everyone by now. I will say, though, that I enjoyed this version a lot more than the cartoon...maybe that's due to my age. Cartoons can be fun, but to really capture the viewer, the "live action" presentation is so much better, in my opinion.

As the film concludes, we see that Alice's Adventures have served a purpose. When she followed the White Rabbit initially, she was trying to escape having to sing at a family event. When she returns from Wonderland, her experiences there have served a very important purpose. She now can sing without fear, and displays a newly discovered courage.

A fun, worthwhile plunge into Alice's world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome. I love Alice, September 24, 2006
This review is from: Alice in Wonderland (DVD)
I love Tina Majorino as Alice. Her voice is so angelic even with a British accent it was perfect for the naive part of Alice.

I love this adaptation of the story. Tina wasn't the only great actor in this movie who played her part well.

Martin Short was amazing. I really disagree with one of the reviews saying that Tweedledum and Tweedledee were the best, I like both actors (George Wendt, and Robbie Coltrane) but they were the worst to me. I'm so happy that all they really had to do was narrate a short story to Alice.

I liked the queen's part but I felt that Miranda Richardson does the same thing in almost every movie; it reminded me of her part in sleepy hollow.

At first I wasn't sure about Whoopi Goldberg playing Cheshire cat but she really did a great job. Her smile was perfect. I guess I originally felt the cat should be a man. Whoopi did a great job being a great twist of creepy, sarcastic, and playful.

I was laughing my head off watching this. It was amazing.

The special/digital effects were amazing not just for 1999, the scene where she finally gets into the garden was better than when they walked through the ice wall in Van Hellsing. It was a very similar effect and Van Hellsing came out in 2004.

I didn't feel that she really learned a lesson, as some people were saying, she was supposed to sing "Cherry Vine" she sang what she wanted. She did gain confidence but she was being defiant. She had personal gain but I don't feel she actually learned a moral.
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Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland by Nick Willing (DVD - 2001)
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