Friday, 29 October 2010

Alice in Wonderland Mosaic: Part 1

I said that I was going to get around doing an Alice in Wonderland mosaic - and now I have! Here is the first sequence of the film:
Now, Alice in Wonderland has been a film that Walt Disney has been attempting to produce for years, even in the EARLY DAYS when Walt Disney and his brother Roy opened the Studio and produced his first ALICE shorts; although at the time he was hoping to do an Alice feature combined with live-action and animation, but Walt couldn't produced and instead it was made into his usual animated-feature canon.
To me, Alice in Wonderland has got some great sequences and there's so many tunes in there that are so memorable and even some folks sing the tunes in it and don't realise it's from the film. Alice in Wonderland has been known for not being much of a favourite to the public - but the animation is one of the finest the Studio's ever done, and it's layouts are great and it's strongly done by Mary Blair - since Michael Sporn's post some extraordinary artwork for the film.
The film doesn't follow TOO MUCH to the books (I've read Lewis Carroll's books - and there's elements in there that haven't been used) but Alice is a thousand times better than the recent Tim Burton film that came earlier this year. However, the characters mainly stick to the original novels and the designs, although the only character that was a Disney creation is the Doorknob animated by Frank Thomas, and I'll talk about that later when we get to the stage.
The animation of Alice is nice and the effects animation is fine and believable although the "Pool of Tears" water just puts me off for some reason! There are only four animators in this film and they are George Rowley, Josh Meador, Dan MacManus and Blaine Gibson - we see quite a bit of Rowley and Meador doing fine effects, but once you see more on Meador - it may become a quite a surprise to those whose never seen the Alice in Wonderland draft.
I'll begin with the first segment:
The first sequence, directed by Wilfred Jackson does a fine sequence and it's a fresh and this sequence all fits well into the story, and most of it follows the original story, because the first words in the book in the first chapter were "Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank..." and it shows a lot of Alice being bored of her sister, and it fits so well!
Eric Larson handles most of the Alice animation and also her cat, Dinah; and Dinah is like another creation of Figaro the cat in Pinocchio and they look alike. Bill Justice, animated her sister and it works well, and it looks like one of the princesses like Cinderella.
The song in the segment In a World Of My Own is beautifully written and it shows a lot of mood in Alice's emotions and George Rowley does great flower effects moving, the song makes me feel that I'm in a world of my own and after Alice sings the song, it suddenly turns into a dream after she touches the pond and then that's when her adventure BEGINS.
Another song in there is the famous tune I'm Late and it's probably sung a lot to the public and the White Rabbit animation by Hal King is probably most remembered in this segment and a lot of the public's favourite animation in this segment is probably the White Rabbit. You'll go to learn that my favourite animation in this segment is actually Eric Larson, not Hal King, who's an underrated animator who's done a lot of fine animation in the films.
Eric Larson handles both Alice and Dinah (Hal King does some shots of Dinah the cat, I believe) and Larson's animation on the characters are brilliant - probably the best shots he did is Shot 13 - when Dinah is listening to Alice talking about her interest and while she talks completely nonsense, Dinah gets puzzled and it's a great acting of showing her personality and the fact that she's a cat and also thinks Alice is out of her mind.
Hal King does the White Rabbit well and it's probably most remembered and I most like the shot in scene 35 when he looks at the time and becomes determined and panic shouting "Oh my dear and whiskers! I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" - and it's great acting and it's timing is fine. Although, the sequence has most animation by Eric Larson (including Alice) with Hal King animating The White Rabbit and a few of Dinah shots, along with Judge Whitaker. Alice has a few scenes by Hal Ambro and Harvey Toombs.
Bill Justice who handles Alice's sister well and it's so careful, and look at Shot 7 and she warns Alice "Will you kindly pay attention to your History lesson?" and she takes off the crown of flowers and as she takes it off - Bill would have to be careful at moving the character with her arm and slowly putting it down and it's timing had to be accurate.
The layouts by Mac Stewart are fine and he doesn't follow the Mary Blair artwork and I think the Mary Blair work had to be used when Alice was down under in Wonderland and it's layouts were brilliant to show what a strange place Wonderland is and how The Riverbank layouts are just as real as our trees and pond - while Mary Blair has a MUCH unique style and it was heavily used for the Wonderland sequences! Brilliant artwork in there.
Some reason, the sequence reminds me a little bit of Bambi, probably because the blue bird flying in shot 26 reminds me of the birds flying in Bambi and it's layouts and flowers are a bit like the film - although it's directed by Wilfred Jackson who didn't work on Bambi but probably worked simalar to it - or maybe Jaxon and the staff weren't trying to make this sequence look like Bambi and make is as they were going to make it.
I'll leave the talking here for you -- feel free to comment on your other opinions about the film or this sequence, and I'll post more and I'm hoping to complete Alice in Wonderland before Christmas.


Eric Noble said...

Excellent start to one of my favorite films. For some reason, Alice in Wonderland has always struck a chord with me in ways that other Disney films haven't.

Ever since I noticed it, I wondered if they simply reused the bird footage from Bambi. It wouldn't surprise me if they did, but maybe they just used it as inspiration.

Alice is one of my favorite Disney heroines. She seems so much more human than the others. Whereas Snow White or Cinderella are otherworldly saints, Alice is human. She makes mistakes and seems like a real girl. I like that.

John V. said...

I actually posted some thoughts on the adaptation of Alice in Wonderland on my blog, a while back -- you can see them here: But those were general thoughts, and this would be a good place to post some of my observations on individual sequences.

In the book, Alice's sister is reading to herself, and Alice doesn't understand the appeal of a book with "no conversation or pictures" in it. Note the "converstaion" -- Alice is interested in a story with characters who she can like. Not so in Disney's version, where Alice wishes for books which have "nothing but pictures" -- a fairly anti-reading sentiment that Carroll would not have been happy with, but what can you expect from film-makers? :)

Incidentally, the history which Alice's sister is reading in the film *does* appear in the book -- it's the "very dry story" that the mouse reads to the caucus racers in order to get them dry, and results in some nice wordplay.

Also, in the book, Dinah is not present in these scenes and probably appears to give someone for Alice to talk to... after the troubles keeping track of Figaro and Cleo in Pinocchio, it's probably a good thing that Dinah doesn't accompany Alice to keep her from talking to herself throughout the film!

As a quick run-down of animator casting: Eric Larson is the main animator for both Alice and Dinah -- with additional Alice animation by Hal Ambro and Harvey Toombs, and additional Dinah animation by Hal King and Judge Whitaker. Hal King also animates the White Rabbit, and Bill Justice animates Alice's sister.

John V. said...

Dinah is like another creation of Figaro the cat in Pinocchio and they look alike.

I assume Eric Larson's name was supposed to be in this sentence somewhere!

Steven Hartley said...

Good point!

Although, I know that Eric Larson is the Animation Supervisor - but it's bascially most of Larson, do you think he might have planned the sequence?