Articles on Animation 23 Jan 2008 08:56 am


- For years, I’ve been intrigued by the two Alice In Wonderland animated features that were released almost simultaneously.

I first saw the Disney feature in B&W on the Disneyland television show when I was a child. It appeared in a truncated form edited down to the one hour format (which was probably around 54 minutes at the time.) They repeated this TV version several times, even after the show moved from ABC to NBC.
I didn’t get to see it in a theater in color until the mid 70′s.

I saw the Lou Bunin version one Sunday afternoon on local NY television in an unadvertised presentation. It took a very different approach. The live action opening was severely edited in that TV version. I saw it projected once in the Museum of Modern Art. (There’s an excellent site that I located about this film which features lots of color stills.)

I had a conversation with animator, Jack Schnerk, during the Raggedy Ann production. He’d worked on Bambi as an assistant and told me that they rushed the last half hour of that production to get it out within the final six months. We were talking about Disney features when he told me that Alice was the last Disney feature he saw. He sat through half of it, he said, before walking out. All he could think was what a waste of talent and effort. All those drawings!
He then said, he saw the Bunin version of Alice soon thereafter (they did open within a week of each other) and felt that THAT’s what Disney should have done!

I did a little reading this week and came upon this article from the NY Times, October 8, 1946.

____________(Click any image to enlarge.)

There was another article from 1953 that I’m not posting. Disney took the Bunin film to court trying to suppress the film’s release. The article seems to side with Disney, but the judge didn’t. He lost the attempt to block the puppet film.

Then I decided to look at reviews. Both films had negative reviews from Bosley Crowther. Both were in the same week’s issues.

First the Bunin film reviewed July 27, 1951.

Here’s the negative review of Disney’s film from July 30, 1951.

5 Responses to “Alices”

  1. on 24 Jan 2008 at 12:56 am 1.Chris Hatfield said …

    Found a clip on YouTube of Bunin’s version.

    Do you where a copy can be purchased?

    I would to sit back and compare the two films.

  2. on 24 Jan 2008 at 5:33 pm 2.Kellie Strøm said …

    I thought both those reviews seemed pretty fair.

    The Lou Bunin version I saw about a year ago at the Barbican in London, and having read the all the nice things Shamus Culhane had to say in Talking Animals And Other People, I had high hopes. Pamela Brown as Queen Victoria was another attraction I was looking forward to. But though I liked the designs of the puppets, all the other criticisms of the above review I agree with. And my did it drag. A poor sense of pace is a flaw shared by Bunin’s Bury the Axis, I think. My eyes also tired of the tastefully minimalist modernism of the puppet sets in his Alice.

    The Disney version has its flaws, but at least up to the Tulgey Wood there’s lots of brilliant stuff to entertain.

    Has Miyazaki ever spoken about the Disney Alice? I seem to see images from it all through his films. Not just the Cat Bus and the tunnel in Totoro, but Kiki lying in the grass, and the giant tears in Spirited Away.

  3. on 24 Jan 2008 at 6:27 pm 3.Michael said …

    Yes, I agree with both reviews. I don’t know if Miyazaki ever spoke about Alice, but he certainly cribbed from Tenniel in Spirited Away, even to characters throughout. I think it added immensely to the film’s aura.

  4. on 25 Jan 2008 at 12:20 am 4.robcat2075 said …

    Wow, that Youtube clip is the first I’ve seen of that Alice. Maybe the stop-mo seemed more magical back then.

    I recall the reference by Culhane in his book, something about Disney trying to prevent Bunin from getting proper film stock?

  5. on 25 Jan 2008 at 6:32 am 5.Kellie Strøm said …

    Yes, according to Culhane, Disney got Technicolor to deny J Arthur Rank stock for the film, which is why they used awful Ansco film.

    Culhane wasn’t involved in Bunin’s Alice, but got to know Bunin later when they were both doing advertising films.

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