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Alice in Wonderland [1951] – Blu-ray Disc Review

February 7, 2011 – 8:53 PM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

5 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 7.5 on IMDb
5 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
4.5 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 5.1 MA & Dolby Digital Mono
4 out of 5 starsBonus Materials are very worthwhile with a DVD too
Rated:G
Year: – 1951
Length: – 75 minutes
Studio:Disney
Region:Region Free (A/B/C)


Overall VerdictHighly Recommended Classic

Buy it for $26.99 @ Amazon.com
Buy it for $26.99 @ Amazon.com


— Review by: Justin Sluss & Danielle Byington


The Movie Itself is based on the books by Lewis Carroll, primarily drawing on “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland“, though baring some influence from the latter “Through the Looking Glass“.

The story begins, of course, with the little girl, Alice (voiced by Kathryn Beaumont), whose mind is pre-occupied with daydreaming. After chasing her beloved cat into a rabbit hole, she tumbles downward, entering the un-casualties of Wonderland. In this world where everything is right-side up, and upside-down, Alice can get no straight answer of how to return home. She relentlessly follows the time obsessed White Rabbit (voiced by Bill Thompson); a chase that leads her to the encounters of many colorful characters. These individuals include the Cheshire Cat (voiced by Sterling Holloway), and the very bizarre Mad Hatter (voiced by Ed Wynn). The frustrated little girl who only wants to go home eventually stumbles upon the Queen of Hearts (voiced by Verna Felton), the most frightful of all that exists in Wonderland.

Looking back on the 1951 feature-length animated Disney classic “Alice in Wonderland“, a good 60 years later, it’s definite that it holds up to the test of time. Here, Walt Disney Studios combined their talents with a well-known literature piece, and brought to decades of audiences an exceedingly imaginative work of art. What makes this rendition of the story unique is that it does not simply rely one direct antagonist character like several of Disney’s other feature animated films; rather, the primary antagonist here is in ways Wonderland itself, as its insanity prevents Alice from just returning home.

This particular story also provided animators with a very wide array of artistic choices to create and design when it comes to the complexities and unique elements originally created by Lewis Carroll. The world of Wonderland and all of the situations described in Carroll‘s fictional story had been touched-on previously by the moving-picture movement, and even influences some of Disney’s animated shorts. However, this animated feature stands out amongst all others, offering the infinite imagination provided by the production members, and firmly presenting its touch of “Disney” as well, making for characters that are not only comedic, but very memorable.


Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.33:1 (4×3) aspect ratio. Because this is in the aspect ratio mentioned, it does contain black bars on the sides — unless you opt to use the special feature “DisneyView” which adds paintings that fit the visual style to the area where the black bars would be.

This is obviously an improvement, even over the 2009 released “Un-Anniversary Edition” DVD. The black level is perfectly solid here, and it helps to emphasize the outlines of the characters; especially for this specimen from the golden era of hand-drawn Disney animation. Color is very, very vibrant here; just as you would expect with the wide range of elaborate designs within the animated Wonderland. This just looks great, as you’d expect for the Disney animated classics over 50 (60 in this case) years in age. They’ve done a great job restoring this and cleaning up the noise and scratches and such on the film print as well. It should come as no surprise that this earns a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. Kudos to the folks at Disney for yet another job well done with the Hi-Def visual presentation.


Audio Quality on this release is presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and (restored original) Dolby Digital Mono. Dialogue is very distinct in both mixes with it being properly mixed to primarily the center front channel in the 5.1 lossless mix. The original songs composed by Jud Conlon (music and vocal arrangements), as well as the original music composed by Oliver Wallace, both get a nice bit of rear channel presence throughout, as well as a tiny bit of LFE (bass) at times; however, it is nothing too intense or thundering by any means, as the audible material hear is derived from a mono (RCA Sound System) mix originally. I do have to say there is a noticeable amount of newfound fidelity here in subjects such as the soundeffects; a great example of this includes the tears cried by “giant” Alice. That matter of fidelity is not quite as high or clean in the restored mono mix. There’s not the world’s most “oomph” or anything here that you will find in the other older Disney films that have come to Blu-ray Disc — most of which have come in 7.1 presentations. I’m not sure why they didn’t opt for 7.1 here and went with standard 5.1, considering films like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” were released earlier, in its case 1937, and (also) only had Mono sound mix to work with. All and all though, this does the film’s wonderful original musical numbers (songs) and the Score justice. This earns an impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.


Bonus Materials are presented in both High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps sound — unless otherwise noted below.

DISC 1 (A Blu-ray) contains the film as well as the following:

  • DisneyView” is available which uses paintings to fill the area that 4×3 (fullscreen) material has, often referred to as pillars. These are very fitting and match the visual style of the animating; not distracting the viewer from the classic film contained between this.
  • Backstage Disney
    1. Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland” is a Picture-In-Picture experience that is “burned-in”, and does NOT require the user to be on a Profile 1.1 Blu-ray Player. Below you’ll find some screenshots of this feature.

      Reference Footage: Alice and the Doorknob” (1:33 – HD) includes optional audio commentary by Kathryn Beaumont.
      Pencil Test: Alice Shrinks” (0:54 – HD)
  • Family Play
    1. Walt Disney TV Introduction [1959]” (1:15 – HD) is from a special Christmas television broadcast of the film.
      Painting the Roses Red Game
  • Classic DVD Features
    1. Reflections of Alice” (13:27 – SD) is a retrospective

      Operation Wonderland” (10:59 – HD) is a “behind-the-scenes” making of; this is also the first time this supplement has been available in Hi-Def!

      [I'm Odd] Newly Discovered Cheshire Cat Song” (3:56 – SD)

      [Through the Mirror] Mickey Mouse Animated Short” (8:49 – HD) this is yet another supplement now avialable in Hi-Def for the first time!

      One Hour in Wonderland” (59:26 – SD) is an episode of “Walt Disney Presents“.

      An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland” (8:06 – SD) is an original silent film featuring Walt and his animation.

      Original Theatrical Trailers” includes the “1951 Original Theatrical Trailer” (2:02 – SD), and the “1974 Theatrical Release Trailer” (1:53 – SD).

      Walt Disney TV Introductions” includes the 1954 Introduction (1:21 – SD), and the 1964 Introduction (1:09 – SD).

      The Fred Woring Show (Excerpt)” (30:57 – SD) this has interviews with Walt showing early animation sketches.

      Deleted Materials
      – “Deleted Scene: Pig and Pepper” (3:12 – SD)
      – “From Wonderland to Neverland: The Evolution of a Song” (6:49 – SD)
      – “Deleted Storyboard Concept: Alice Daydreams on the Park” (2:01 – SD)
      – “Original Song Demos” includes:
      Beware the Jabberwock” ; “Everything Has a Useness” ; “So The Say” ; “Beautiful Soup” ; “Dream Caravan” ; “If You’ll Believe in Me

      Interactive Art Gallery” (HD)

DISC 2 (A DVD) contains the film in Standard Definition as well as the following:

  • Virtual Wonderland Party” — Interactive game.

Overall, the bonus materials are very worthwhile, even if you previously had the DVD released in 2009, as it contains all of those same features, some of which for the first time ever presented in Hi-Def — namely a classic “Mickey Mouse” animated short. You get a good two hours roughly of just featurette-style content, plus the Picture-In-Picture experience which runs the full 75 minute runtime of the film, as well as a Standard Definition DVD of the film included in this “combo” pack. Fans will be pleased with the supplemental material found on this release.


Blu-ray Disc packaging:


Screenshots:

NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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  1. One Response to “Alice in Wonderland [1951] – Blu-ray Disc Review”

  2. “They’ve done a great job restoring this”

    According to film preservationist Robert Harris, this was not a film restoration. The original negatives were used, but were not color matched to a final dye transfer print. The colors may look vibrant, but may not match the intent of the people who worked on the film: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/308166/a-few-words-about-walt-disney-s-alice-in-wonderland-in-blu-ray#post_3773905 .

    By James K. on Feb 8, 2011

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