|Alice in Wonderland|
|Based on||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass|
by Lewis Carroll
|Screenplay by||Peter Barnes|
|Directed by||Nick Willing|
|Country of origin|
|Running time||129 minutes|
Alice in Wonderland is a 1999 made-for-television film adaptation of Lewis Carroll's books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. It was first broadcast on NBC and then shown on British television on Channel 4.
Tina Majorino played the lead role of Alice and a number of well-known performers portrayed the eccentric characters whom Alice meets during the course of the story, including Ben Kingsley, Ken Dodd, Martin Short, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Ustinov, Christopher Lloyd, Gene Wilder, Robbie Coltrane and Miranda Richardson.
The film won four Emmy Awards in the categories of costume design, makeup, music composition and visual effects.
The film follows the storyline of the book closely, save for adding some scenes from Through the Looking-Glass. It also changes the opening real world scene from Alice and her sister sitting at a riverbank to Alice in her bedroom, reluctantly practicing the song "Cherry Ripe", which she is expected to perform at a garden party. (The party guests are played by the same actors as the Wonderland characters and are shown as resembling them in appearance and personality, in a similar manner to the MGM version of The Wizard of Oz. The toys in Alice's room also reflect the residents of Wonderland). Thanks to stage fright and constant nagging from her confident governess (Dilys Laye), Alice runs out of the house and hides herself in the woods nearby, planning to stay hidden until the party has ended. However, an apple floats down from the tree and seems to hover in Alice's face. She is suddenly distracted by a human-sized White Rabbit (voiced by Richard Coombs) rushing by. Curious, Alice follows the White Rabbit, falling down his rabbit hole and ending up in Wonderland.
Alice travels throughout Wonderland, meeting a large number of bizarre people and challenges. Alice first has problems keeping her size the same while attempting to go through a small door leading to a beautiful garden, growing massively tall and flooding the room she is in with her tears before shrinking to the size of a mouse. She then meets Mr. Mouse (Ken Dodd) and his avian friends who participate in a Caucus Race, where everyone wins. Alice encounters the White Rabbit again who directs her to his house. There, Alice comes across a bottle of liquid that makes her enormous and leaves her trapped in the house. The White Rabbit and his gardeners Pat (Jason Byrne) and Bill (Paddy Joyce) attempt to remove Alice by going down the chimney, but Alice shrinks again. Wandering in a forest, she encounters Major Caterpillar (Ben Kingsley) who advises her to not be afraid before transforming into a butterfly. Alice grows back to normal size by eating part of a mushroom. She ventures to a nearby manor house where she meets the musical Duchess (Elizabeth Spriggs), her baby, her pepper-obsessed plate-throwing cook (Sheila Hancock) and the Cheshire Cat (Whoopi Goldberg). The baby is left in Alice's care but it turns into a pig and is released. The Cheshire Cat advises Alice to visit the Mad Hatter and his friends the March Hare and the Dormouse.
Meeting the trio at a tea party, Alice is given rather odd advice on how to avoid stagefright, with the Mad Hatter (Martin Short) leaping onto the table to do his performance he previously did at a concert of the Queen of Hearts, the Queen eventually didn't enjoy the performance by quoting it's "murdering the tune" and ordered him to be executed. But the Hatter escapes being decapitated which upsets Time (who referred to as a 'he' and was once a close friend to the Hatter) and punished the three by stopping "himself" so they will have a never-ending tea party. Alice eventually leaves when the Mad Hatter and March Hare begin smashing cups and plates. They also try stuffing the unfortunate Dormouse into a teapot. She comes across the small door and using her intelligence, succeeds in getting through it into the garden which is actually the labyrinth maze belonging to the Queen. The Queen of Hearts (Miranda Richardson) invites her to a bizarre game of croquet, but her love for decapitating people annoys Alice. The Cheshire Cat's head appears in the sky and is ordered to be executed, but reasoning from Alice stops the Queen. The Duchess arrives to answer the King's question of who the Cat's owner is, but the Cat has vanished. Alice leaves the croquet game, meeting the Gryphon (voiced by Donald Sinden) and the Mock Turtle (Gene Wilder). The two sing with Alice, teaching her the Lobster Quadrille and encouraging her. Alice then wanders into a darker area of Wonderland, meeting a White Knight (Christopher Lloyd) who encourages her to be brave and also shows her his newest invention.
Alice meets some talking flowers: a Tiger-Lily (voiced by Joanna Lumley) who is the most sensible out of all of them, some Roses which are not too bothered about Alice being lost and some Daisies who are rascals. Having the flowers helping her, Alice walks off. Alice then meets Tweedledum (Robbie Coltrane) and Tweedledee (George Wendt) who have some antics with her before getting into a fight over a dropped rattle. Alice is then captured by a pair of card soldiers and taken to the royal court where the Knave of Hearts (Jason Flemyng) is put on trial for apparently stealing the Queen's jam tarts. The Mad Hatter and his companions appear as witnesses but he is accused of stealing someone else's hat and is recognized by the Queen for singing at her concert, prompting him to sing his Twinkle Song. Alice is then called to the stand but she uses some mushroom pieces to grow to great heights. She sees the jam tarts have been untouched and the trial is pointless. She openly criticizes the Queen, the King and Wonderland. The White Rabbit, who is present at the court, reveals he deliberately lured Alice into Wonderland to conquer her fears. He does so by first asking her if she is self-confident. Upon Alice answering yes, he simply states, "then you don't need us anymore." He then sends her back home using the same hovering apple that brought her there in the first place.
Awakening back home, Alice courageously sings in front of her parents and their guests, but instead of singing Cherry Ripe, she sings the Lobster Quadrille which she finds much more interesting. The audience enjoy her performance to Alice's happiness. Alice spots the Cheshire Cat in the audience, who smiles at her in congratulations.
In all, 875 special digital effects were created for the film. An example is Martin Short's head; it was enlarged to three times its size to resemble the Hatter in Tenniel's illustrations.
In December 2018, composer Richard Hartley was interviewed for Tammy Tuckey's "Rattling the Stars" podcast about his work on the film for the 20th anniversary, providing never-before-heard stories.
In 2019, a behind the scenes documentary of the film was released on YouTube, which had originally been broadcast on the Hallmark Channel in 1999 and had not been included on any VHS, DVD, or digital releases of the film.
The original NBC airing averaged a 14.8 household rating and a 22 percent audience share and was watched by 25.34 million viewers, ranking as the 6th highest rated program that week in terms of households and the most watched program that week in terms of total viewers.
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