Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972)

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Released 11-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 91:42 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By William Sterling
Studio
Distributor
Josef Shaftel
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Fiona Fullerton
Michael Crawford
Ralph Richardson
Peter Sellers
Flora Robson
Robert Helpmann
Dudley Moore
Spike Milligan
Michael Jayston
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI ? Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, water opium pipe
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Michael Crawford, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, Fiona Fullerton and many, many other great names are all wasted in this very dreary rendition of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. I had high hopes for this film when I saw the incredible cast that had been assembled and unfortunately I was very disappointed. To make matters worse, the disc itself is not very good either - the source material has been carried over a composite link at some stage and there are more compression artefacts than you can poke a stick at.

    I normally like children's films and to be fair I seem to be a little out on my own with my dislike of this film, although my son didn't really like it either. Looking at its score on the IMDB, 64 people have voted to give it a rating of 6.4, which is not bad as IMDB ratings tend to be fairly tough.

    This is a musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll's work and the music is quite good, as are most of the songs. Fiona Fullerton (later a Bond girl) plays Alice and is one of the better parts of this film. She is very pretty and has a good singing voice that matches the part well. Other characters are sprinkled through the film. Michael Crawford is almost unrecognisable beneath his white rabbit make-up - until he speaks that is. In 1972, when the film was made, he is still very much the person we associate with Some Mother Do Have Them and not the later person we see as the Phantom Of The Opera. Spike Milligan uses a voice for his character that is very similar to Eccles, and I kept waiting for the queen to order his head removed and for the cry of "You deaded me" to ring out.

    The story does follow the book and as we move through the film we see the Mad Hatter's tea party and the various potions and mushroom parts that vary Alice's size. The sets are interesting if a little sparse for my liking and the costumes are pretty good. I wonder what would happen today if you wrote a book about a little girl that runs around drinking strange potions from unmarked bottles and munching on wild mushrooms and taking strange trips. With the loss of innocence that the world seems to have been subjected to I am sure it would never be published.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I am afraid that no matter what you think of the original film, this disc does not do the film any favours at all. It is a very poor transfer. Underlying the problems arising from overcompression and the artefacts from composite processing is an amazingly good piece of film considering its age, but you can barely see this because of the other problems.

    The transfer is presented at 2.35:1 and NOT 16x9 enhanced, so at least we seem to have the original aspect ratio, even if we miss out on 16x9 enhancement.

    The underlying sharpness is quite good but this is almost completely lost in the pixelization that is present. So bad is the overcompression that in some places fine detail just simply disappears. Shadow detail is good but there is a fair amount of low level noise.

    The colours are good, though affected in places by posterization, such as at 23:53. The saturation again is good with some quite nice colourful sections. Skin tones seem to vary a little from hot to cold but I think this is the result of the lighting used for the various sets that have a colour tint to them.

    It is in the MPEG section that we come to the major problems. Just about every scene is pixelated. Some very clear examples where there is pixelization, loss of fine detail and posterization are: 23:53, a long shot of Alice approaching the camera; 24:19, the brickwork on the left of the building; and 25:05 and on for about 10 seconds - all the detail in the background of the room, the fireplace, the trim around the roof and so forth. Setting pause and single stepping these scenes is an education in itself. Further problems arise from false colouration as a result of this transfer being processed in the composite domain at some stage. The windows at 25:05 appear to shimmer, but single stepping this scene shows alternating blue and yellow patches over the entire window surface. Another very distracting example is the long shot of the queen during the trial at 79:40. There is also a fair amount of aliasing present on any horizontal edge and an example is clearly seen at 10:42. Another very major problem is a constant telecine wobble present throughout the entire film. If the MPEG encoder did not have enough to deal with trying to fit this entire film onto one layer of the disc, having the entire frame moving has made the entire process impossible. I found that this wobble came close to making me seasick at some points. The film source itself is not in bad condition, with remarkably little grain and only a few scratches present.

    There are no subtitles present on this DVD.

    This is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on this disc. It appears to me to be a mono soundtrack.

    Dialogue quality was not too bad, with the characters easy to understand. Overall, there was something not quite right about this soundtrack that I could not put my finger on. It may have been a lack of fidelity or a subtle level of distortion.

    The audio was in sync with the on-screen action.

    The music was very appropriate for the film on most occasions, though little ditties like 'Off With His Head' as sung by the Queen seemed out of place to me, even in a musical. The longer, self-contained songs were good.

     There was no surround nor subwoofer activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

   A simple static menu accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The sound clip lasts for 1:28. The only thing unusual about the menu is that it is presented at 2.35:1.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I have been unable to find any solid information on the Region 1 version of this disc. Some reviews seem to indicate that the transfer quality is about the same as we have received.

Summary

    While doing my research for the R4vsR1 section of this review, I saw a number of reviews where the reviewer really liked this film. This makes it doubly disappointing that these fans have not been given a quality transfer.

    The video is shocking.

    The audio is acceptable, but only in comparison to the video.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Wednesday, April 24, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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