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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

15 Comments

  1. bombasticus
    October 5, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

    The revelation about being “the only Disney movie to be more or less unofficially stricken from the Animated Canon” is a little shocking in light of first the TV edit and then the home video treatment. Pity Br’er Bear! Maybe a side look at the film’s mixed success in reconstructing the “Alice Comedies” era could be useful . . . girl VERSUS mouse as true foundational figure of the corporate myth.

    Reply

    • Josh Marsfelder
      October 5, 2016 @ 9:20 pm

      Song of the South is the primary reason the parenthetical and the qualifier “unofficial” are in that sentence.

      Reply

  2. John G. Wood
    October 5, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

    Interesting indeed! I’ve not seen the Disney movie and am certainly not so connected to Alice as yourself, but I am a bit of a Carrolliphile. (Carrollophile? Whatever.) My connection with Alice and computer gaming is through Interactive Fiction; many years ago I wrote a programming tutorial on it. I wince at some of the writing now, but hopefully that means I’m improving! (My advice: skip down to the Afterword.)

    Reply

    • Peeeeeeet
      October 6, 2016 @ 2:40 pm

      This reminds me that Magnetic Scrolls did a text adventure game called Wonderland. I didn’t play it at the time but I did love “Fish!”, a surreal little gem of theirs. They always seemed a bit more subversive than their main rivals Infocom, though the latter had the Hitch Hiker game. I gather both can be played using the Magnetic interpreter:

      http://msmemorial.if-legends.org/magnetic.php

      Reply

      • Josh Marsfelder
        October 6, 2016 @ 11:20 pm

        I have the Magnetic Scrolls game for DOS. I’ve been dying to give it a try, but I have nothing to play it on. I tried that emulator, but it doesn’t seem to replicate the game’s most defining feature, its graphical icons and windowed overlays that flesh out the text adventure.

        Unless I’m doing something wrong. Which is entirely possible.

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        • Peeeeeeet
          October 7, 2016 @ 9:05 am

          I don’t know your setup, but your best bet might be the Amiga emulator WinUAE – I just tried it and it loads OK but runs like a dog (WinUAE is usually very snappy so I suspect it was always sluggish) – so some fiddling with settings would be necessary to make it a pleasant experience.

          However, if you’ve been trying to use DOSbox and it’s crashing immediately:

          I downloaded a zip that had all of the DOS version in; the config text files for Wonderland hard-code the paths to C:\wonder. So you need, within DOSbox, to mount the c drive to be the folder which you put the “wonder” folder in, which for me means:

          mount c c:\users\pete\gaming\other\wonderland

          It then loads and runs fine for me. Hope this is of some help!

          Reply

          • Peeeeeeet
            October 7, 2016 @ 11:11 am

            While I’m here, my favourite Alice adapation was an audio version I had on cassette when I was a kid – it had quite the cast: Frankie Howerd, Bruce Forsyth, Beryl Reid, Tommy Cooper… Quite wonderful, especially the “You are old, Father William” song.

          • Josh Marsfelder
            October 7, 2016 @ 10:25 pm

            I’ll be sure to give that a shot, thanks!

            Have you ever seen Jonathan Miller’s TV play version? That may be my favourite adaptation overall.

          • Peeeeeeet
            October 8, 2016 @ 11:06 am

            I know of it, but I’ve never seen it all the way through. It certainly looks extraordinary from what clips I’ve seen.

  3. Austin Loomis
    October 5, 2016 @ 2:39 pm

    But Alice and games and Alice games provide a useful metaphor of a sort, in particular, the fact that a great deal of them are some manner of abortive.

    Including the Alice Game of Rozen Maiden.

    there’s an Easter Egg early in the game I absolutely adore where you can briefly dye Alice’s hair red. She doesn’t like it, but her general appearance in this scene puts me mildly in mind of Ariel from The Little Mermaid, or perhaps even the redheaded Alice from the 1980s anime version of Alice in Wonderland

    It probably put many of the Japanese players who encountered it in mind of Anne of Green Gables, which has at least as much of a Japanese following as the Alice canon. (Manga that have referenced it include Dance in the Vampire Bund, where Princess Mina becomes “bosom friends” with the mortal girl Yuki Saegusa, and Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, whose protantagonist Kafuka Fura was originally named An Akagi, a reference to the first book’s Japanese title Akage no An — “Anne the Redhead”).

    Psychochronography can lead to some strange bits of Ideaspace; indeed, it must and shall, given that there is really only one thing happening and we are all seamlessly welded into it. It can also, in the words of the man who accidentally wrote the twentieth century, “bore the piss out of you in any space time direction”.

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  4. David Faggiani
    October 5, 2016 @ 3:07 pm

    I absolutely adore the Alice in Wonderland Disney film, usually naming it as my joint favourite alongside The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid (I’m not very decisive).

    I think the dreamy, sleepy, opening song (“A World of my Own”) is one of the weirdest, loveliest bits of music in a Disney film.

    The opening of the Walrus and the Carpenter sequence is also one of my favourite transitions/shots in a film, let alone just animation. The music helps there too.

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9rar6csNm1qky013o1_500.jpg

    I’ve always been a bit flummoxed as to its relative villification, and suspect it mostly boils down to “how dare the Americans touch Caroll?”. In which case… why are you watching Disney at all?

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    • Josh Marsfelder
      October 5, 2016 @ 9:27 pm

      I’m a big fan of that film’s version of “The Walrus and the Carpenter” too. Though I think the scrapped song “Beyond the Laughing Sky” would have been a better fit for that opening sequence then “A World of my Own”.

      Reply

  5. The Flan in the High Castle
    October 5, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

    On the subject of strange video game quasi-sequels to Alice, does anyone remember the American McGee version (aka Tim Burton Meets the Quake Engine)? I adored it at the time, grimdark goth-bait though it was, and while I don’t know how well it’d stand up to contemporary political analysis, it’s still one of the most atmospheric and visually imaginative takes on Alice I’ve ever encountered.

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    • Josh Marsfelder
      October 5, 2016 @ 9:24 pm

      I have a great many thoughts on American McGee’s Alice. I may outline them in further detail somewhere, I may not. Tried to get into the first game but couldn’t (the technology wasn’t quite there yet at the time IMO). But I thought the sequel, Alice Madness Returns, was one of the most singularly visualy imaginative video games I’d ever played at the time, and I was super excited for the potential of the possible third game Alice Otherlands.

      In spite of that, I could never fully get behind McGee’s interpretation of the story, however. And his behaviour in recent years has more or less killed his series for me.

      Reply

  6. Ross
    October 5, 2016 @ 11:11 pm

    I never realized the bad rep that the disney version had; I just assumed that it was like every other disney property where their version had erased every other except in the hearts of the hard-core fans. The only problem I ever had with it was that there wasn’t more of it (Which technically is a complaint I have about the books too. (I have no beef with L .Frank Baum, but it really bugs me that there are 14 Oz books and only 2 wonderland ones.)

    Now that I’m down to the last dozen versions of War of the Worlds to talk about on my own blog, I’ve been contemplating what to do next. Maybe “Blow a silly amount of money going through every adaptation of Alice in Wonderland I can find” would be fun.

    Reply

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