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Alice in Wonderland

Peter Sellers , John Gielgud , Michael Redgrave , Percy Stow    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

Price: CDN$ 21.53
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2.8 out of 5 stars
2.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst version of Alice ever April 17 2010
What a disappointment. With a cast like that I expected somethng brilliant, what I got was self-indulgent claptrap with no resemblance to Lewis Carroll's work. Ther's no magic, no humour. This is the only DVD that I've ever just thrown out.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Curiouser and Curiouser Aug. 7 2011
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
As with many productions of Hamlet there are also many productions of Alice. Some productions such as the Disney version chose all the fluff and left out all the complexity and depth of the story missing the point completely. This production "The Wednesday Play: Alice in Wonderland (1966 BBC TV episode) attempts to put back some of the meaning and the feel of the book (with a tad of improvising) by presenting a more Victorian dream like state. Due to the year and the media the presentation is in monochrome but it works; as it turns out because the presentation could not rival the engravings from the book, the monochrome was a purposeful choice to give the film a Victorian feel.

Just the correct actor was picked for each Lewis Carroll character. Director / Producer Jonathan Miller cast Anne-Marie Mallik as Alice as she matched his vision of the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church in Oxford. My favorite character is Mock Turtle played well by Sir John Gielgud where much of the original dialog was left in.

An added surprise was the musical back ground by Ravi Shankar at the height of popularity. The sound of the sitar blended in well with the time of the story and the outdoor insect environment.

The commentary by the director Jonathan Miller helps explain the stark differences of this production.

West Meets East: The Historic Shankar Menuhin Collection
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5.0 out of 5 stars A '60's near masterpiece Oct. 28 2010
This challenging 1966 production of Alice in Wonderland by the talented director Jonathan Miller can be watched over and over again with each viewing revealing new details and the great depth of the interpretation, but always while again stimulating the laughter that is inherent in the story.

And it's a real pleasure to watch the apparently effortless and nuanced performances by the old pros such as Gielgud, Redgrave, McKern, Sellers and Muggeridge, along with the usual presence in British productions of a large and very talented supporting cast.

The luminous black and white photography has been beautifully restored and is a pleasure to look at in itself while the music of Ravi Shankar and oboist Leon Goosssens is always refreshing and endlessly catchy in its melodies and rhythms.

The supplements include a drama by the renowned Dennis Potter about Lewis Carroll and the real Alice which indirectly helps to clarify many of the choices made by Mr. Miller in shaping his production.

Don't look for the dumbed-down, overly saccharine approach that Disney and others often take to this and other children's stories but enjoy the knowledgeable-adult level approach taken by Mr. Miller. His commentary is very entertaining and informative, shedding light on his overall approach and providing very many interesting details about the making of the film.

For my money, after viewing it on various occasions over a period of four months, this DVD is a hidden treasure which is an incredible bargain at the price.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alice in Boringland!!! March 16 2010
Verified Purchase
I had to force myself to make it through this 71 minute b&w version of Alice in Wonderland. Alice is portrayed as flat and emotionless - with absolutely no sense of wonder. The most popular scenes in the story are made tedious and humourless. The bonus 1903 version of Alice in Wonderland surpasses the Jonathan Miller film by far. Hard to imagine any true Alice fan enjoying this movie. Truly awful!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice in Wonderland directed by Dr. Miller Feb. 25 2010
By cookmoore - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
WARNING for those who want to see Johnny Depp. Of course, Tim Burton might love this version. Might not be as twisted...
I only heard of this movie because Jonathan Miller was the director. An actor/comedian (Beyond the Fringe) among many other things, he captures a psychological look at the "children's story". This one gets the reputation of not being so child-like.
The actors listed are...Peter Cook, Peter Sellers, Alan Bennett, John Bird, John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Leo McKern, Wilfrid Brambell, Wilfrid Lawson, Wilfrid Lawson, Malcolm Muggeridge, and the unknown actor Anne Marie Mallik plays Alice.
Music by Ravi Shankar...
According to the version from 2003, Dr. Miller said in the commentary that he revisited this story and tried to capture what he had felt when he first read the book. Images of obscured characters which give one a tainted feeling remains throughout this movie. Of course, that's my perspective. Jonathan Miller would transition scenes very often in order to gain that feeling as if you as a person was walking through a dream. You will experience this movie as if you just dreamt it up. It's not supposed to make sense. Don't bother to connect the dots . . .
There are no costumes to cover up famous actors' faces. They are seen in complete view as it is strictly the acting that creates the characters from the book. I feel this movie is the closest to the story than any other Wonderland movie. The only things in this version that are altered are the genius improv lines in which John Bird, Peter Cook, and Peter Sellers have said on the spot of filming. The rest is true to the Victorian book. This is a very artistic movie and many should watch to appreciate the mood that is set.

Did i mention that Eric Idle is in this also?!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alice, the BBC play, is the real treat here June 2 2010
By Steven Annan - Published on Amazon.com
This version of AIW movie was beautifully hallucinogenic and beautifully photographed in B&W, the music by Ravi Shankar was wonderful and there were some standout performances, especially Peter Cook's as the Mad Hatter. Overall, however, a kind of dry and emotionless atmosphere prevailed, oddly bleak against all the silliness and merriment of Carroll's words. This was brought to the fore by the incredibly detatched, emotionless performance of Anne-Marie Mallik as Alice. So it gets only 3 stars.

The play Alice (written by Dennis Potter & directed by Gareth Davies), on the dvd as an extra, gets 5 stars however and is well worth the price of the dvd. (The 1985 film Dreamchild is really a remake, somewhat re-imagined, of Alice.) It's presented as it was broadcast on BBC and it is brilliant. The play is full of emotion. The character of Dodgson/Carroll is brilliantly portrayed and his intentions regarding Alice are left to the viewer to sort out. He appeared to have a kind of childlike innocence about him (as befitting the creator of the fantastic book) yet some, particularly Alice's mother, were deeply suspicious of his motives. Anyway, it's a great play/movie, a must-see.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Cook Is The Best Hatter By Far! April 17 2010
By Dean Richards - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is the most intelligent of all the 'Alice' adaptations. Even though it was filmed for BBC TV, it was filmed in 35mm B&W,using deep focus, wide-angle cinematography. A technology usually associated with theatrical feature films. The result is the best cinematography of all the 'Alice' films.
The musical score by Ravi Shankar is hypnotic and mesmerizing. Jonathan Miller's direction is daft and subtle and calls to mind the offbeat films of Richard Lester at that period.
And the mad tea party. It's the best and most subtle of all the Hatter tea parties on film. It's truly mad and crazy, and it's done without special effect gimmicks or cute little songs.Peter Cook is the best of all the Hatters I've seen and I've seen over a dozen in just film alone. He is truly mad. Not a cute,sweet mad like Johnny Depp, but a disturbing and real sort of mad.
This film is a great adaptation and a beautiful work of cinema.
James(the 'Alice' fan)
Dean just has the account
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A '60's masterpiece Oct. 25 2010
By Iambic Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
This challenging 1966 production of Alice in Wonderland by the talented director Jonathan Miller can be watched over and over again with each viewing revealing new details and the great depth of the interpretation, but always while again stimulating the laughter that is inherent in the story.

And it's a real pleasure to watch the apparently effortless and nuanced performances by the old pros such as Gielgud, Redgrave, McKern, Sellers and Muggeridge, along with the usual presence in British productions of a large and very talented supporting cast.

The luminous black and white photography has been beautifully restored and is a pleasure to look at in itself while the music of Ravi Shankar and oboist Leon Goossens is refreshing and endlessly catchy in its melodies and rhythms.

The supplements include a drama by the renowned Dennis Potter about Lewis Carroll and the real Alice which indirectly helps to clarify many of the choices made by Mr. Miller in shaping his production.

Don't look for the dumbed-down, overly saccharine approach that Disney and others take to this and other children's stories but enjoy the knowledgeable-adult level approach taken by Mr. Miller. His commentary is very entertaining, throwing light on his overall approach and providing very many interesting details about the making of the film.

For my money, after viewing it on many occasions during four months, this DVD is a hidden treasure which is an incredible bargain at the price.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile package June 18 2010
By J. Hagerty - Published on Amazon.com
I really vacillated over whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. I've watched the film twice now (with and without the director commentary) and I can say that I do not fall into the "this film is genius" camp. What pushed it into four stars was the bonus features: the 1903 Hepworth version and the "Alice" docudrama (more about that in a bit). I should add that I did not buy this through Amazon, and apparently some of the reviewers who did got a disc that was not the Miller movie.

Never having seen the film before, I found it too much a product of its time. Much like Austin Powers (the character, not the films) it's frozen in the '60s. The Ravi Shankar music, Alice walking around in a drug-addled like haze, the long straight hair parted in the middle, my sustained impression was that this was the "flower power" Alice and it just seemed incredibly dated. The croquet match sequence reminded me more than a little of the grape-stomping scene in Frankenheimer's "Seconds" (which came out the same year).

After watching it the second time with the director's commentary turned on, I can see that I wasn't too far off. It's amazing how close some of the hippie/flower child counterculture values of the '60s matched the Victorian satire of exactly 100 years earlier. I don't agree at all with Miller's choice for Alice. Listening to how he chose her seems like he had a creepily Dodgson-like infatuation with the actress. He put a casting notice in the local papers and received hundreds of photographs of young girls hoping to get the part. Apparently, after he saw Ann-Marie's photograph he never even called in a second candidate. Whatever he saw in her didn't translate to the screen, at least not for me. I know she was supposed to be a detached, dream-like observer, but to me she came across as almost catatonic. There was no interaction at all with any of the characters (you do interact in your dreams at times), and her delivery of lines was so deadly wooden that it was like a script girl doing the read-back for other actors to play off of.

I will give props to all of the famous actors who appeared for apparently a pittance. Their performances were, while understated, the best parts of the film...once you got used to the lack of costume. As others have said, you have to know the story going in to know what's going on.

About those bonus features. The reason I bought this is that, as a huge Tim Burton fan I had recently picked up his new "Alice" film (I missed it in the theaters). After watching it, I pulled out my musty VHS copy of "Dreamchild" for a viewing with my wife and daughter. I got this disc since it looked like an interesting counterpoint to that film, especially when I noticed that it had its own Dodgson/Alice Liddell docudrama included. As I watched it, I was astonished to find that most of the set pieces were IDENTICAL to the flashback scenes in "Dreamchild." Checking the credits, I was not surprised to find that Dennis Potter was the writer on both of them. Also, as a silent film buff, the inclusion of the 1903 version was almost worth the price of the disc by itself! I'm sure that with the digital processing techniques available today that some of the horrible degradation of the nitrate print can be repaired. One can dream.
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