8 February 2017 | richardchatten
A Breezy Canter Through the Children's Classic
This early feature-length adaptation of the children's classic canters briskly through Lewis Carroll's book, progressing episode by episode from one well-remembered tableau to another and sticking satisfactorily faithfully to the events, imagery and strangeness of the original (the latter two elements through skillful costume design and by making liberal use of verbatim passages of Carroll's dialogue on the title cards).
A.A.Young's direction occasionally threatens to be more visually inventive than it ever actually is; and he rather loses control during the croquet game, when he plainly didn't know visually how to organise all those extras milling about the screen for its duration.
Although there are a few special effects, the decision to film most of the action out of doors in attractive rural settings and on the coast greatly enhances the charm of the piece. The more fantastic elements of the original are conveyed with the help of imaginatively designed settings and props like the oversized signpost to Wonderland and the enormous mushrooms among which we find the caterpillar smoking his hookah. It's to whoever designed the costumes that the greatest kudos are undoubtedly due. The costumes for the actors portraying the Duchess and the Mock Turtle deserve particular mention; while the lobsters emerging from the ocean to dance the Lobster Quadrille resemble something from a sixties sci-fi movie.
Rangy fifteen year-old Viola Savoy's Alice ambles through the far-fetched proceedings with appropriately nonchalant good humour.