As has been said more than once, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' is wholly deserving of its classic status. Have always loved the oddball atmosphere, the colourful scenarios and characters, its themes and Lewis Carroll's prose, with its logic, paradoxes and use of poetry. Have never really had much of a problem with the episodic structure, didn't even notice it as a child being instead too entranced in the scenarios and characters.
Easy book to adapt it is not, though it is long from being one of the hardest books to adapt (it's not like Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky or 'Lolita'). Due to it being hard to make Alice interesting (the Wonderland characters have always struck me as far more memorable in personality), that the book is a series of events and can be criticised for not going anywhere and the creative yet complicated language/prose. On the most part, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', 'Through the Looking Glass' also, has been laudably adapted, most are not 100 percent faithful adaptations but as someone who always tries to something on its own merits most don't fare too shabbily. There are a few average or below versions, especially the atrocious Video Brinquedo version, but most are enjoyable, though have yet to see a "perfect" one.
Have said before that it is sad that this 1985 Anglia adaptation, in five parts, is the rarest 'Alice in Wonderland' adaptations. As a standalone it may not exactly be the best, but is still one of the most interesting and one of the few to adhere closely in detail and spirit to the source material. Further having the delightful interest point of the puppetry being close to the real illustrations.
This episode is better than the still very well done than the previous two. Focusing on the end of "Advice of a Caterpillar" and "Pig and Pepper" namely and a little bit of "A Mad Tea Party" (most of it is in the following part), it is one of the better-looking episodes of the adaptation and one of the most entertaining.
Not much to complain about here, though the Caterpillar's design at the start is still on the odd side.
Despite being one of the better looking episodes, some of the expressions and movements seem somewhat restricted, like for the Mad Hatter.
However, much of the episode, especially in "Pig and Pepper", is impressive visually and technically. Still love the clever backgrounds, especially the woodlands and the look of the tea party. Character and puppetry design wise, the standouts are the frog and the Cheshire Cat in an episode where on the most part the characters and puppetry were at their most creative and smoothest. Even the pigeon blended surprisingly well and although the Duchess is (intentionally) hideous she is remarkably true to Tenniel's illustration of her. Striking too were the changing size effects for Alice in her encounter with the pigeon, some nice creativity there. The "origin of how 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' came to be" live action is filmed beautifully, don't slow things down and the period detail looks lovely.
Music has a lovely understated whimsy, while the dialogue flows naturally with Carroll's writing shining wonderfully (the writing in the live-action bookend scenes with its telling-a-story device similarly charms). "Pig and Pepper" is like the chapter of the book come to life and the Cheshire Cat encounter is even better, my favourite part of the episode.
Giselle Andrews succeeds in not making Alice too bland and gets more comfortable all the time. Eleanor Bron is suitably over-the-top as the Duchess, but best of all are Michael Bentine's very amusing March Hare and even more so Leslie Crowther's purr-fect Cheshire Cat.
Summarising, very well done. 8/10
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