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Western Animation / Alice in Wonderland

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"Most everyone's mad here."

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrariwise, what it is, it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

Number 13 in the Disney Animated Canon, this 1951 adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was a long time coming. Walt Disney was a lifelong fan of the book and wanted to make it a decade earlier, but another production of the story was being produced elsewhere at the time, prompting the studio to shelve it for a while. Then World War II happened and they lost a lot of their budget on war films. Some years of Development Hell turned the film into a more wacky, comedic, and very odd entry in the Disney canon.

It inspired three attractions in the Disney Theme Parks, most prominent being the famous spinning teacups ride, which each resort has a variation of.note  Disneyland also has a conventional dark ride based on the film, and Disneyland Paris has a Wonderland labyrinth. When Slave Labor Graphics had the licenses to produce different Disney comics, they published a sequel miniseries simply titled Wonderland, in which the White Rabbit's unseen maid Mary Ann gets her Day in the Limelight and has to save her boss when he is blamed for being responsible for the havoc Alice wrought on Wonderland.


If you're looking for the 2010 Tim Burton film, also by Disney, visit here.

This film contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Context Change: The film depicts the croquet game being rigged to stop Alice from having a chance against the Queen of Hearts - and it's something of a Humiliation Conga for her. In the book the rabbit has to warn Alice that she's playing too well - so she messes up on purpose to let the Queen win.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In Lewis Carroll's book, no one is actually in any danger of being executed by the Queen of Hearts. The King secretly pardons anyone she sentences to death, and it's implied that the inhabitants of Wonderland simply choose to humor her. The Griffin confirms that nobody is really killed.
    • Heck, the King himself, who's gone from pardoning executions to openly supporting them!
      King of Hearts: [after the Queen sentences another card to death] Off with his head! Off with his head! By order of the King! You heard what she said!
      King of Hearts: [running after Alice using his giant crown as a megaphone] YOU HEARD WHAT HER MAJESTY SAID! OFF WITH HER HEAD!
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    • The Walrus in "The Walrus and the Carpenter". While neither he nor the Carpenter were particularly good people in the original poem (Alice notes that the Walrus showed remorse for his actions but still ate more oysters than the Carpenter, while the Carpenter ate as many as he could), he was much more remorseful in the poem. Here, however, he's depicted as an arrogant, manipulative, greedy, evil aristocrat.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: The Cheshire Cat. In the book, he's pretty much Alice's only friend and helps guide her in his own, unique way. Here, he gets her in trouble with just about every appearance.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: A minor example when Alice grows to giant size in the forest: it may seem a stretch that the bird would mistake her for a serpent, since she looks nothing like one. In the original book, it was her neck that had grown out of proportion, which makes the mistake more believable.
  • Adapted Out: By necessity, many of the original characters were cut for pacing. Most notably The Duchess, who lends some of her personality to the Queen Of Hearts, her pepper-loving cook, the Mock Turtle and the Griffin. The Jabberwock was also planned to be in the movie despite being from a poem only in Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to the Alice In Wonderland book, but was omitted, although a few lines from the Jabberwocky poem remain.
  • Age Lift:
    • Alice is a little older than she is in the books. She appears to be the same age as her actress Kathryn Beaumont - who was twelve when she recorded her lines.
    • The other way round with her cat Dinah. She's fully grown in the books but just a kitten in the film.
  • All Just a Dream: The entire adventure takes place in a dream Alice is having while dozing off during her sister's lecture.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The blue Caterpillar, as per the book, and the Cheshire Cat. Indeed, this adaptation seems to have led to later adaptations making the Cheshire Cat that brilliant mix of purple and pink.
  • Anachronism Stew: A very subtle example. The Talking Doorknob represents an invention that was not patented until 1878, a good thirteen years after the original book was published.
  • An Aesop: Logic and reason exist for a purpose. Without them, the world would be a very confusing and frustrating place. Also, being overtly curious is a bad thing and can get you in trouble.
  • And Starring: The opening credits list "And Introducing Kathryn Beaumont," although she had already been in relatively small roles in other films.
  • Anti-Escapism Aesop: At the beginning, Alice is bored by her lessons and longs for a world where animals wear clothes, flowers talk, and everything is nonsense. She goes Down the Rabbit Hole to a world just like her fantasy, but after much growing and shrinking, rudeness and bullying from the strange creatures she meets, and general insanity, she declares "I've had enough nonsense!" and is desperate to get back home.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The Dormouse looks like an actual mouse (or at least like a typical cartoon mouse) instead of a realistic dormouse, which is an only vaguely mouse-like relative of the squirrel. Then again, he also talks, wears clothes, and lives in a world with blue caterpillars and purple striped cats.
  • Art Shift: Wonderland has more abstract, boldly-colored backgrounds compared to the riverbank where Alice's sister reads to her and Dinah.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Alice four times in the film. First she eats from a box in the bizarre room, which makes her grow so big her tears become an ocean. Then in the White Rabbit's house, which results in the rabbit and the Dodo thinking she's a monster (and trying to smoke her out). When she tests the mushroom out, she grows even larger and towers over the top of a forest. And finally she willingly grows to this size to defend herself in court.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The White Rabbit and Bill the lizard.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Alice tells Dinah that her ideal world would be nothing but nonsense and describes it at length (and in song). She's less than pleased by the resulting journey to Wonderland.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never insult the Caterpillar for his size. EVER.
    • Practically everything for the Queen of Hearts. And she enjoys it.
    • The Hatter and the March Hare don't like it when people sit down at their tea party uninvited.
  • Big "WHAT?!": The White Rabbit, when the Dodo suggests burning his house down when a grown Alice, thought to be a monster, is trapped inside.
  • Blind Mistake: The White Rabbit and the Bird in the Tree both wear glasses: the fact that they're short-sighted presumably explains why the Rabbit mistakes Alice for his maid Mary Ann and why the Bird mistakes her for a serpent.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: A few instances in the scene with caterpillar. After Alice coughs up smoke, she imitates the way the caterpillar says "Who...", complete with a small "o" coming out of her mouth. Another time combined with Porky Pig Pronunciation:
    Caterpillar: Exactically, what is your problem?
    Alice: Well, it's exactica... exactica... well, it's precisely this...
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Alice, throughout the entire movie. She's trolled by nearly everything Wonderland can throw at her.
    • The White Rabbit. Alice (accidentally) demolishes his house, the Dodo ruins all his furniture, and that's before the Mad Hatter gets hold of his poor, poor watch...
  • Caged Inside a Monster: While in the Tulgey Wood, Alice meets a "birdcage bird": a large bird with a birdcage as its trunk, a head and two legs. It has two small birds inside its body. When Alice bumps into it, the door on the birdcage opens and the two small birds escape. The birdcage bird runs after them and swallows them, returning them to the inside of the cage.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Doorknob only exists here.
  • Cathartic Exhalation: The Queen of Hearts exploits this trope, fanning herself after she cheats at croquet.
  • Cats Are Mean:
    Queen of Hearts: (sinisterly) Now, what were you saying, my dear?
    Cheshire Cat: Why, she was just saying that you're a fat, pompous, bad-tempered old tyrant! Haha!
    (Alice has an Oh, Crap! look)
  • Censorship by Spelling: A G-rated example. Alice spells out C-A-T in an attempt to stop the Dormouse from freaking out.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Except when the game you're playing is completely rigged so that you'll get a perfect score and your opponent will get a zero.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted. It looks like the size-changing mushrooms will get Alice away from the Queen, but taking both of them at once (since she couldn't remember which piece would make her grow) almost immediately returns her back to her normal size just in time for a frenzied chase.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: During the tea party sequence, Alice is blue, the Mad Hatter is green, and the March Hare is red.
  • Closing Credits: The first picture in the Disney Animated Canon to include these (the only one until The Black Cauldron), a list of characters and their voice actors scrolls after the "The End" card.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Wonderland in its entirety.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: The Queen of Hearts' white, heart-printed, ankle-length bloomers are on display after the Cheshire Cat causes her to flip over and upside down, with a flamingo used as a croquet mallet or club to lift up her dress.
  • Comically Cross-Eyed: The completely insane Mad Hatter and the March Hare often take on a cross-eyed expression.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Alice sees a talking white rabbit with a waistcoat and a pocketwatch, and her initial reaction is "What could a rabbit possibly be late for?"
  • Composite Character:
    • The Queen of Hearts is a combination of the Queen of Hearts, the Duchess, and the Red Queen. The line "All ways are my ways" is from the Red Queen and is The Artifact here, as it refers to her being a chess piece who can go in every direction. Also, Pat's role is given to the Dodo.
    • The Dormouse has the Mouse's fear of cats.
    • The Mad Hatter and March Hare's "unbirthday" schtick, which replaces the novel's explanation for the Tea Party, is actually taken from Humpty Dumpty's dialogue.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The books had Loads and Loads of Characters and it would have been unfeasable to put them all into an hour long animated film, so the Disney adaptation cherry picks the most iconic elements of both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass while using the basic plot structure of Wonderland for the whole film.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The Mad Hatter pours hot tea into his collar which flows out his sleeve into his teacup. This doesn't bug him at all.
  • Covers Always Lie: Perhaps not a total lie in a strict visual sense, but a lot of the posters and promotional material for the film would make the denizens of Wonderland out to be much friendlier than they actually are. In reality, most of the Wonderlanders end up quite rude, hostile, or too deranged to be of any help, and Alice's journey is less an enchanting trip through a land of whimsy than it is an endurance test. One old poster goes far enough to show the Queen of Hearts herself smiling and sitting along with Alice at the tea party!
  • Crowd Song: "The Caucus Race", "All in the Golden Afternoon", "Painting the Roses Red" and "The Unbirthday Song Reprise". Man, they love to sing!
  • Cute Kitten: Alice's cat Dinah. Which is interesting because in the book, she is an adult cat with kittens of her own.
  • Darker and Edgier: Except when it's not. This version does have its moments, though, such as the cards that the Queen sentences to decapitation. In the book, the King pardons them. In this movie, though, they don't get any mercy like that.
  • Dark Reprise: "Who's Been Painting My Roses Red?"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alice.
    Alice: That was a very sad story.
    Tweedledee and Tweedledum: Eh, and there's a moral to it!
    Alice: Oh, yes, a very good moral! If you happen to be an oyster.
  • Detail-Hogging Cover: In this case, it's the opening credits. As they were still shots, they could show a lot more detail than the film. For instance, the Queen's Pimped-Out Dress has white edging on the overskirt, but the fabric isn't clear in the film, while in the credits it's shown trimmed with white ermine.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The whole film, naturally. But especially the ending chase.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Each of the queen's reasons for the beheadings that occur.
  • Don't Explain the Joke:
    Doorknob: Quite alright, but you gave me quite a turn!
    Alice: You see, I was falling—
    Doorknob: [interrupts] Heh! Rather good, wot? Doorknob, turn?
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Alice fails to see how Tweedledee's and Tweedledum's story about the dangers of curiosity applies to her.
  • Dumb Dodo Bird: The Dodo of course! Though he's not so much stupid as he is subject to the bizarre leaps of logic of all Wonderland residents.
  • Everyone Chasing You: Happens to Alice right before she awakens in the real world.
  • Face Palm: Alice has a particularly good one in reaction to the reprise of the Unbirthday Song.
  • False Friend: The Cheshire cat. He gives Alice horrible advice on who to ask for help, gets her in trouble with the queen constantly, and causes a big chase scene at the end with everyone in Wonderland after Alice. Too bad Alice didn't realize this sooner about him...
  • Fanfare: The March of the Cards.
  • Fantastic Racism: The flowers are very nice and accommodating to Alice until they discover she is not a flower. Then they become hostile, having decided that if she is not a flower, she must be a weed.
  • The Ghost: The White Rabbit's housemaid Mary Ann, is never seen, though implied her appearance is similar to Alice's.
  • Go Among Mad People: Discussed in the opposite when Alice says that she doesn't "want to go among mad people!"
  • Ground Pound: The Queen of Hearts does this while the cards are dragging off prisoners for painting the roses red. It sends all of the nearby cards falling flat on their faces.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: In the courtroom:
    King of Hearts: What do you know about this unfortunate affair?
    March Hare: Nothing.
    Queen of Hearts: NOTHING WHATEVER?!
    Queen of Hearts: THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT!!!
  • Hammerspace: The items in the small room Alice is in before the "pool of tears" appear out of nowhere.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Gay" as "happy" pops up as "fancy-free and gay" in "The Caucus-Race."
  • Happily Married: Surprisingly, implied with the King and Queen of Hearts, who are shown to be quite affectionate toward each other when the Queen isn't in a bad mood.
  • Humanlike Foot Anatomy:
  • Hurricane of Puns: "All In The Golden Afternoon".
  • Iconic Outfit: Alice's blue dress with the pinafore, white stockings, black Mary Janes, and "Alice band."
  • Impact Silhouette: After eating all the oysters without leaving the Carpenter any, the Walrus nervously tries to leave in the face of the angry Carpenter who is menacingly brandishing his hammer, before flat out vamoosing out the seaside shack's door...without opening it.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • Kathryn Beaumont as Alice.
    • Ed Wynn as The Mad Hatter.
    • Jerry Colonna as the March Hare.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Bird in the Tree comes to the conclusion that Alice must be a serpent because she eats eggs.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Your way?! All ways here are my ways!"
  • Jerkass: Several characters. Notable examples being the Cheshire Cat, the flowers, and obviously the Queen of Hearts.
  • Jeweler's Eye Loupe: Played with when the Mad Hatter uses a salt shaker as a loupe to examine the White Rabbit's watch.
  • Kangaroo Court: Alice's trial. For starters, the queen was intending to pronounce sentence before the verdict had been decided had the king not intervened. Next, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse all serve as witnesses, providing absolutely nothing of value to the case, yet the court considers it of vital importance. And finally, the trial is interrupted to celebrate the queen's unbirthday (much to Alice's annoyance)
  • Large Ham:
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    Alice: When I get home, I shall write a book about this place.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Alice, as she descends slowly before holding down her dress when she plummets.
  • Mind Screw: Aside from the obvious, Alice's escape from Wonderland: the Doorknob shows her outside asleep in her real outdoor environment. She wakes up by dreaming that her dream self is begging her real self to wake up.
  • Monochrome to Color: When the White Rabbit's watch goes crazy, the screen turns an intense red until the March Hare smashes it with a mallet. For one brief shot, the screen turns black and white to show the watch expiring, before turning back to normal colors in the next scene.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Very Good Advice", in which Alice sings about her personal flaws and breaks into tears, feels out-of-place to some people, especially since it comes in between the parts where Alice explores the Tulgey Wood and the Cheshire Cat tells her to visit the Queen of Hearts. Then again, this is Wonderland we're talking about.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The way the King is introduced. He actually has to remind the Rabbit about it - which leads to this quite fatigued response: "...and the King".
  • Mythology Gag: The Cheshire cat sings the beginning of "The Jabberwock" poem ("'Twas Bril-lig/ And the sly-thy toves/ Did gyre and gim-ble in the wabe...").
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Alice uses the mushrooms during the trial so she could turn giant and give a speech about the reasons the Queen of Hearts sucks, but she shrinks while she says it. No one takes it seriously as a result.
  • Ocular Gushers: When Alice gets frustrated with the constant changing of size, she cries an entire ocean of tears due to being gigantic at this stage.
  • Off with His Head!: The Queen's favorite phrase is to literally call for people to get their heads cut off.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Queen of Hearts gets this reaction when she witnesses Alice growing rapidly in the courtroom.
    • Alice gets this twice. First, when she realizes she has shrunk back to her normal size and is at the Queen's mercy. Then when she sees the Queen and the other Wonderland residents approaching her while she is trapped at the door trying to escape Wonderland.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: After Alice eats a treat that says "Eat me", she starts growing again while searching for the White Rabbit's gloves and gets that reaction.
  • Only One Finds It Fun: When the Rabbit introduces the Queen of Hearts at the croquet match, the speculators all cheer, but when he introduces the King, only one of them does.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Not just Alice, but also the White Rabbit at some points, though he's way too neurotic to fit the trope perfectly.
    • Mother Oyster in "The Walrus and The Carpenter". She avoids death because of it.
  • Opening Chorus: Just like every other Disney film in the 50s.
  • Parachute Petticoat: Alice as she falls down and ends up in Wonderland.
  • Parental Bonus: In "Painting the Roses Red," the Ace blames the Deuce, who blames the Trey. The queen echoes the Ace: "The deuce, you say?" The 1950 viewing audience would have recognized "The deuce, you say!" as their older generation's slang term for "Bullshit!"
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The dress worn by the Queen of Hearts, with the high collar, underskirt with the black and gold chevron design, and the overskirt with the ermine trim (although the animation limitations made it look like just a solid white trim in the film).
  • Possession Presumes Guilt: While chasing the Dormouse in the courtroom, The King of Hearts accidentally hits the Queen with a gavel. He panics and hands it to the March Hare, who hands it to the Mad Hatter, who hands it to Alice.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film is actually a combination of the original book and its sequel "Through The Looking Glass". Keeping every character from the books would basically be impossible, so the movie uses the most iconic ones from each book, while the plot itself is based off Wonderland. Tweedledee and Tweedledum, The Walrus and The Carpenter and the singing flowers are originally from Through The Looking Glass.
  • Rapid-Fire "But!": The White Rabbit stammers "but, but, but..." when the Mad Hatter cracks open his watch, which gives the Hatter the idea to use butter to "fix" it.
  • Random Events Plot: There is no real story going on (other than Alice trying to get back home); the whole film is about Alice going through a stream of conscious series of Random Encountersnote  with the bizarre residents of Wonderland. Each of the segments were even given to different directors.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Predating even the trope namer, though rather than using actual doors, the scene in question takes place in a hedge maze.
  • Second-Face Smoke: The Caterpillar does this to Alice.
  • Sidekick Song: "The Unbirthday Song".
  • Sizeshifter: Alice, whenever she eats or drinks anything in Wonderland.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Type 3 (Pragmatic Adaptation). The film cuts out a lot of characters from the first book to keep the length of the film reasonable, and it sandwiches in a few other elements from Through The Looking Glass as well.
  • "Somewhere" Song: "In a World of My Own".
  • Speech Impediment: The Mad Hatter's lisp, which was one of Ed Wynn's trademarks.
  • Spelling Song: "AEIOU", more or less.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: As Alice complains to the Caterpillar about three inches being a bad height for her, this happens:
    Caterpillar: I am exact-tically three inches high, and it is a very good height INDEED!
    Alice: But I'm not used to it! And you needn't... SHOUT!
  • Synchronized Swarming: While Alice is traveling through the Tulgey Wood she meets a group of mome raths, who form themselves into the shape of an arrow to lead her to a path.
  • Those Two Guys: Several pairs show up: Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Walrus and the Carpenter, and the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: The King and Queen of Hearts.
  • Too Dumb to Live: No prizes for guessing what the oysters not taking their mother's advice about staying in the sea to heart led to.
  • Trauma Button: Never mention cats around the Dormouse.
  • Trivially Obvious: A couple of examples.
    Mad Hatter: Something seems to be troubling you! Why don't you tell us all about it?
    March Hare: Start from the beginning!
    Mad Hatter: Yes, and when you get to the end, ha ha ha...stop. See?
  • True Blue Femininity: Alice's dress, to match the original book's art.
  • Tyop on the Cover: The title card misspells Lewis Carroll's name with only one ending L.
  • Unexplained Accent: Some of Wonderland's residents like the White Rabbit, March Hare, Cheshire Cat and the king and queen speak with American accents when everyone else has English ones.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Alice sees a rabbit in a waistcoat, holding a giant pocket watch, running around and singing. What does she find odd about all this?
    Alice: How very curious. What could a rabbit possibly be late for?
  • Vague Age: Tweedledee and Tweedledum dress like and act like children, and could pass for large kids, especially in the bizarre Wonderland, but they are shown to be balding underneath their caps, making them look like grown men dressed as kids. This is in keeping with the book, which describes them as "two fat little men," but also says that they looked like "a couple of great schoolboys."
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The film doesn't explicitly state that the White Rabbit and the Bird in the Tree are nearsighted. The audience is expected to know just from their wearing glasses.
  • Villain Song:
    • "Who's Been Painting My Roses Red?"
    • The deleted song "I'm Odd" could be seen as one too, though it's more a "Blue-and-Orange Morality Song".
  • Visual Pun: Several. Bread-and-butterflies, rocking horsefly, and so on...
  • Wham Line: The Doorknob gives one to Alice just before the ending.
    The Doorknob: Oh, but you ARE outside!
    Alice: What?
  • Wily Walrus: The Walrus from the poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" was bad enough in the original novel, but in this adaptation, he goes through quite a bit of Adaptational Villainy, and gains a Dastardly Whiplash-esque appearance to match. He takes all the oysters for himself instead of sharing with the Carpenter, like he did in the poem. Also, this movie portrays the oysters as youngsters, making the Walrus seem even more monstrous!
  • World of Ham: Wonderland is quite loud and dramatic, but the Queen of Hearts and the March Hare stand out as the hammiest.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Queen of Hearts is perfectly willing to have a little girl beheaded.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When Alice meets the momeraths, they help her find a path out of Wonderland. Unfortunately, as she runs down it and cheers that she will finally return home, a dog with broom bristles on its head and tail appears and sweeps the path away. It's hard not to share Alice's frustration afterward.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Alice In Wonderland 1951


The Walrus and the Carpenter

Once the walrus eats the oysters without the carpenter, he is chased out, making a hole in the shape of his body.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

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Media sources:

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