Alice in Wonderland (1966)

alice in wonderland 1966 poster dvd
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Unusual choice of no costumes makes it more thoughtful

Still a very hard story to adapt

Movie Info

Movie Name: Alice in Wonderland

Studio: BBC

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): December 28, 1966

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

alice in wonderland tea party peter cook michael gough wilfrid lawson anne marie mallik

Happy Un-Birthday!

Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) is having a peculiar day.  Following a White Rabbit (Wilfrid Brambell) down a hole, Alice finds herself in a strange world inhabited by strange people.  Be it getting caught in a Caucus Race or encountering a quizzical Caterpillar (Michael Redgrave), Alice finds herself growing and shrinking as she explores the land.  Alice has tea the Mad Hatter (Peter Cook), March Hare (Michael Gough), and Dormouse (Wilfrid Lawson) and realizes the danger of Wonderland when she finds herself on trial by the Queen of Hearts (Alison Leggatt) who has demanded her head…Wonderland is a curious place.

Directed by Jonathan Miller (who adapted the script), Alice in Wonderland is a BBC TV play.  The film adapts the 1965 Lewis Carroll classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and aired on December 28, 1966.

Alice in Wonderland is extremely tricky.  In many ways it is a bunch of vignettes, but it also is a story that tone is all-important.  I found this version of the film in a discount pile and thought it sounded interesting.  It definitely is a different take on the story.

alice in wonderland peter sellers alison leggatt anne marie mallik

That Cheshire Cat isn’t smiling…

The film is relatively faithful to the Carroll source material.  Many of the concepts and ideas that are wrapped up in Carroll’s wordplay made it in the story.  Alice is not only often cold and distant, but she is also impertinent and could be considered rude in the eyes of a lot of adults.  Here, she’s portrayed as almost stoic as she wanders through the land which does take on more of a dream-like aspect than other versions of the story.

Anne-Marie Mallik isn’t a bad Alice in this sense.  Rather than being precocious, most of her dialogue is internal and done in voice over.  Through her journeys, she encounters a number of English actors who are a mixture of well-known actors and characters actors of the time including Michael Redgrave, Peter Cook, Wilfred Brambell, Michael Gough, Wilfrid Lawson, Alison Leggatt, Leo McKern, Malcolm Muggeridge, John Gielgud, and Peter Sellers.  There is also an uncredited Eric Idle as part of the Caucus Race.

alice in wonderland mock turtle john gielgud beach

A lovely day for a stroll with the Mock Turtle

The most striking aspect of the adaptation is the lack of costumes.  Miller did not want to pay top dollars for actors simply to have them hidden in costumes.  The viewer simply has to be aware of what characters the actors are portraying because they are dressed like humans and appear as humans.  The Cheshire Cat is simply a cat.  While this normally might take away from something like Alice in Wonderland, here it makes it rather intriguing.  It is combined with a stylishly shot means of storytelling that does the most with what it has.  It feels like a dreamy, wispy tale.

In many ways, this is kind of the “thinking man’s” Alice.  Many Alice in Wonderland adaptations play up the fact that it is generally considered a children’s story with heavy allegorical moments.  Here, it feels like an adult story with some childish aspects woven into it.  Fans of Carroll’s work should check this out, but don’t expect the Alice that you are used to…this Alice is a different experience.

Related Links:

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) 

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response