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Film / Alice in Wonderland (1985)

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There's no way home... from this strange land...

Alice in Wonderland is a 1985 two-part CBS Made-for-TV Movie adaptation of Lewis Carroll's books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Directed by Harry Harris and produced by Irwin Allen, it stars Natalie Gregory as Alice and features an All-Star Cast of supporting players, including Red Buttons as the White Rabbit, Anthony Newley as the Mad Hatter, Jayne Meadows as the Queen of Hearts, Carol Channing as the White Queen, Roddy McDowall as the March Hare, Ann Jillian as The Red Queen, Robert Morley as the King of Hearts, Ringo Starr as the Mock Turtle, Sammy Davis Jr. as the Caterpillar, and Telly Savalas as the Cheshire Cat.

In the film, seven-year-old Alice isn't allowed to participate in tea parties because her parents don't believe she is grown-up enough, and this becomes a driving factor for Alice through her journey, with Alice trying to be more grown up as a theme throughout. Musical numbers aside, the adaptation goes on to follow both books fairly closely, aided with costumed actors.

If you want to read the third draft of the screenplay, choose this link.

The film adaptation provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: A mild example. Alice's goal throughout all her adventures is to get back home and she repeatedly voices her homesickness, unlike in the books where she rarely thinks about going home and is a textbook Angst? What Angst? character. Even her fall down the rabbit hole is changed from the book's whimsical scene into a darkly realistic fall with her shrieking in terror all the way down, and the Looking-Glass half of the film takes this trope even further by having the threat of the monstrous Jabberwocky loom over her journey.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Done with the Red Queen, the White Queen and the Queen of Hearts.
  • Adaptational Heroism: By the end of the second act, the Queen of Hearts shows a sympathetic side towards Alice (probably because Alice is a queen too by then) and even uses her famous command for good when the Jabberwocky attacks the party.
  • Adapted Out: In Through The Looking-Glass Alice is greeted by a frog after ringing the bell of her new palace when she becomes a queen. He is omitted here. The living foods whom Alice is introduced to at the banquet are absent too, perhaps because the writers needed more time for the sequence with the Jabberwocky. Dinah's kittens are also absent due to the story being adapted to take place directly after Alice's trip to Wonderland.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations
  • Animorphism: The White Queen randomly transforms into a sheep at one point, in one of the most bizarre points of the film.
  • Award-Bait Song: The song Alice sings with a baby deer she finds in the woods, which has no equivalent in the book, no bearing on the plot, and is a bit of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment without being over-the-top.
  • Ascended Extra: The Jabberwocky is ascended to an actual threat.
  • Back for the Finale: The White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse and the King, Queen, and Knave of Hearts return for Alice's coronation in the Looking-Glass World.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the climax, the White Knight comes to save Alice from the Jabberwocky. It is doubled as a Heroic Sacrifice, in which he gets presumedly killed by it.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Alice managed to return home, defeated the Jabberwocky and now is able to participate in the tea parties, but she is unlikely to see her Wonderland and Looking-glass friends again. The film's last shot is of her waving goodbye to them with a Tearful Smile as they sing to her.
  • Camp: This version is known for this trope. Including, but not limited too, its gaudy production designs, hilariously ill-fitting costumes, proliferation of B-list celebrities, the washed-up former Broadway performers too old to achieve name recognition among the film’s demographic, and the largest blonde wig in cinematic history, that was worn by the 1985 version's star, 9-year-old Natalie Gregory.
  • Cliffhanger: The original TV airing, as well as the DVD, had the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland section end right as the Jabberwocky shuffles into Alice's living room and she screams. Because the two parts were released as standalone films on VHS, the first part ends as Alice runs home after escaping Wonderland, with the scenes that follow moved to the top of the second part and a title card providing backstory added.
  • Coming of Age Story: Alice is preoccupied with growing up throughout her journey, and she succeeds by the time she stands up to the Jabberwocky. In the end her parents finally decide she's old enough to join them for tea.
  • Composite Character: Averted with the Red Queen. She and the Queen of Hearts are different characters as in the original books.
  • Darkest Hour: The film has two:
  • The Dreaded: The Jabberwocky is largely feared.
  • Disney Death: The White Knight is defeated when he tries to fight the Jabberwocky in the climactic scene, but turns up alive and well among the characters who sing to Alice from the mirror in the end.
  • Dream Within a Dream: This device is used to link the plots of Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass together. Alice seemingly wakes up at the end of the "Wonderland" section, only to discover that she's not really back home, but in Looking-Glass Land.
  • Gender Flip: Tweeddledee is played by a woman, although this doesn't alter the plot.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The King and Queen of Hearts at the end of Part Two. For that matter, the Knave they betrayed did this as he's a guest in Alice's party.
  • I'm Not Afraid of You: Alice says this to defeat the Jabberwocky.
  • The Musical
  • Or Was It a Dream?: It seems to all have been a dream at the end of the film until Alice looks through the looking glass again and sees everyone she met in Wonderland and the Looking Glass World singing to her.
  • Patter Song: The fast-paced "Can You Do Addition?" song that the Red and White Queens sing to Alice in the Through the Looking-Glass section.
    Can you do addition what is one and one and one and one and one and one and one and two?
  • Pep-Talk Song: Actually inverted by the Cheshire Cat; the scene seems perfectly set up for him to sing an uplifting song to Alice about how she'll find her way home if she just doesn't give up... and he does the exact opposite, singing a dreary and depressing song about how "There's No Way Home".
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: The Jabberwock is an unnecessary addition to the "Through the Looking Glass" portion of the film. In the original book, the Jabberwock never appeared outside the poem "Jabberwocky". Irwin Allen, however, believed the story needed an equivalent to the Boogeyman, so he made the Jabberwock appear and scare Alice when she reads the poem, and then turn up again twice later (once at the end of the Humpty Dumpty scene, the second during the climax). But really it contributes nothing to the story, aside from allowing the producers to put in a climax somewhat more comprehensible than the book's rather bewildering finale (as well as giving Alice a reason to "grow up" by facing her fears).
  • Truer to the Text: Only takes a few liberties, mostly in Through the Looking-Glass (the Jabberwocky being an actual antagonist and not just a random poem Alice reads is the biggest example), though it stands as one of the very few adaptations to actually cover Through the Looking-Glass separately and not just lump a few elements from it in with the first book.
  • Villain Song: The Queen of Hearts' song "Off With Their Heads".
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: When Alice read the poem "Jabberwocky," her fear makes the monster actually appear. From then on he reappears whenever she gets scared, until she finally conquers her fear of him and makes him disappear.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Alice apparently returns home after fighting the cards, but is in another parallel world and has to face her fears.