It all begins when Alice spies a white rabbit with a waistcoat hurrying off to some appointment for which he cannot be late. She follows him down a rabbit hole, only to fall down, down, down into a strange and wonderful world - a wonderland. At first, she is too tall to fit through the tiny door to go after the rabbit. After drinking a potion she finds, she shrinks small enough to fit, only to find that she is now too small to snag the key way up on the table. Eventually, through a river of tears and more consumption of strange goods, she makes her way inside, not finding the rabbit, but instead finding more confusing things. She meets peculiar characters like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, odd twin brothers who tell her amazing stories with even more amazing characters like the Walrus and the Carpenter. Alice encounters lots of creatures that leave her scratching her head such as bread-and-butterflies, rocking horseflies, dog and caterpillars, and a group of singing flowers who think she is a weed. She meets the Caterpillar (Richard Haydn), a hookah-smoking fellow obsessed with vowels; she then meets the Cheshire Cat (Sterling Holloway) who is helpful to her, but informs her that everyone here is mad. She soon stumbles upon an insane party, the Mad Tea Party, being hosted by the Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn) and the March Hare (Jerry Colonna). This scene is actually one of the best in the film and is Ed Wynn at his most brilliant. With all of the nonsense surrounding her, Alice is simply becoming more and more frustrated and all she wants is to go home.
Soon things take a turn for the worse when she becomes entangled with a group of playing cards who serve the Red Queen, a tyrant who insists that everything go her way or she will decree, "Off with their heads!" to anyone who dare defy her. When the Queen spots a white rose hiding under a coat of fresh red paint, it sets her off. She soon decides that Alice must join her in a ridiculous game of croquet where colored flamingos and moles serve as the croquet and ball, respectively. Naturally, the Queen wins the game, even if it means a good deal of "fixing" of the game. When the Cheshire Cat shows up and makes a grand fool of the Queen by showing her bloomers, Alice is sentenced to death and is able to narrowly escape back through the original door she came through so long ago. As she awakens from her odd dream, she finds herself quite happy to leave the world of nonsense behind.
Alice in Wonderland has been completely remastered and looks spectacular, especially when you consider that this movie is 60 years old. Even the DVD looks great, but the Blu-ray is simply exquisite, with rich colors that pop off the background. Considering the age of this film, there are an amazing number of special features that are sure to please the Disney history buff in the family. There are several vintage television specials that talk about the creation of the film and also a live action version that aired on the Fred Waring Show once upon a time. There are song demos that come complete with their original crackled recordings and there are vintage pencil tests and even a good bit of reference footage that was used by the animators while they were animating the film. In fact, I learned that they ended up using the audio from the reference footage of the Mad Tea Party because Ed Wynn simply sounded better when he was acting it out. You'll also get Walt Disney's original live action/animated Alice short, plus Mickey Mouse's version of Alice in Wonderland. It should come as no surprise that Walt was obsessed with bringing Alice to the big screen and it took him many years and many iterations before he was successful. Additionally, there are deleted scenes, lost storyboards and songs, TV introductions by Walt, vintage trailers and a couple of games for the kids to play. Honestly, most of the special features found here are more for the young at heart who are interested in Disney nostalgia rather than today's children. While I really enjoyed seeing Alice in Wonderland again and it is a Disney animated classic, I can see kids of today looking at it and the antiquated and crisp British way of speaking Alice has and simply saying, "It's too old."
Don't let this stop you from adding Alice in Wonderland: 60th Anniversary Edition to your collection. It has been beautifully remastered and deserves a shining place in everyone's movie collection. Here's to hoping that today's kids can be made to appreciate another one of Walt's masterpieces.