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An amazing fictional depiction of Dodgeson & Alice
drkjedi1-231 December 2002
This is a stunning film, there have been all kinds of rumors and stories about the Rev. Charles Dodgeson and just who he was. This film lovingly and sadly portrays a what-if tale about Alice Liddell, the real Alice, of his famous books and what Victorian society did to her memories of this delightful man. I am not a member of the camp that thinks Dodgeson had a unnatural love for little children I find it preposterous and slanderous to say the least. This movie portrays him brilliantly and Ian Holm is such a superb actor you really feel sad for the lonely man with no wife and children of his own who writes these wonderful tales only to be suspected of unacceptable feelings for the little girl. This movie gives us all that with some wonderfully creepy Wonderland sequences by Hensen's creature shop. Simply marvelous!
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a brilliant, beautiful film
An_Hedonic9 August 2002
Dreamchild is a beautiful and tender exploration of the (non-sexual) love of children which prompted the Rev. Charles Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll) to write _Alice in Wonderland_. The story begins in 1932 as 80 year old Alice Hargreaves (nee Liddell, the inspiration for the fictional Alice) and her timid personal maid Lucy reach New York City to participate in a centenary celebration of Dogson's birth. Coral Browne is outstanding as Mrs. Hargreaves and Ian Holm plays Dodgson perfectly. Amelia Shankley is also excellent as the young Alice, seen in flashbacks and "dream" sequences involving characters from the book. The puppets, for lack of a better word, created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop (??), are faithful recreations of the original Tenniel drawings and, for the most part, much of their dialog is adapted from the book and wonderfully integrated into the film.

Besides the main plot there are several sub-plots, and the clashes between the upper class British woman and the rude, intrusive press are quite amusing, especially so when one considers how much worse the "news media" have become. The film touches on the plight of Lucy, a docile servant to Mrs. Hargreaves who worries about her future after Mrs. Hargreaves "meets my maker," as she puts it. Luckily for Lucy there is the American reporter Jack, who falls in love with Lucy and eventually convinces her it is not solely his desire for money ("You can tell when he's talking about money. His lips go all wet.") which draws him to the two women.

Through the flashbacks and dream sequences we see little Alice and Mrs. Hargreaves in various situations which shed more light on her friendship with Mr. Dodgson, whom she has almost completely forgotten as an old woman. Many details of the plot are taken directly from Alice in Wonderland and Dodgson's diaries and letters, making it an even greater pleasure for those familiar with his life. Initially Mrs. Hargreaves is terrified of dredging up long-forgotten memories but slowly comes to understand, accept, and express true appreciation for the love Dodgson felt for her, and many other children throughout his life.

This beautiful and moving film didn't receive the recognition it deserves due to the timing of its release, which unfortunately coincided in the USA with the witch-hunts and hysteria of the baseless "child-care Satanic abuse" cases popping up all over the country. Dodgson was, by most standards, an unusual man whose life-long stutter and natural shyness made him uncomfortable with many adults, but with small children he worked magic. He was one of the first amateur photographers and some have interpreted his penchant for taking pictures of children "au naturel" as an indication of pedophilia. Anyone who has read his diaries or letters knows he was most scrupulous about taking these types of pictures and virtually never did so without receiving parental permission, often having a parent present during the session. Charles Dodgson loved children in a pure and non-sexual way and that love gave us two of the world's classics in children's literature. The film makes this perfectly clear and is a tribute to the genius and gentleness of this kind, loving, and brilliant man.
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Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!
aimless-4615 December 2004
Let me start by simply saying that the reaction I had viewing this film was unlike any other viewing experience I can recall. Although I found it well written and produced, I was so disappointed by the 2/3's point that I almost stopped watching. Yet by the end I was absolutely embracing the whole thing. So if you are a Lewis Carroll fan keep an open mind and watch the whole thing, you may find the whole much greater than the sum of its parts. And you may even find yourself willing to accept the historical fiction as necessary to better tell the story.

I suppose a large part of my initial negative reaction was due to the film's puzzling failure to capture a fundamental aspect of Alice Liddell's childhood personality. Alice spent much of her time in "Wonderland" being p….d off; at the illogic, the rudeness, and the selfishness of the characters she met there. Both Alice's were proper and confident little Victorian girls who took themselves very seriously. I am sure that this was one of many "Real Alice" personality traits that Carroll transplanted to his "Wonderland" Alice. Often amused by her reactions of irritation and frustration, he constructed many of the story elements with the intention of getting indigent reactions from Alice and her sisters. I had hoped that this connection would be made by the film and was disappointed that it was not explored, although in retrospect you could argue that the older Alice's reactions to the characters she meets in America are identical to Alice's reactions to the characters in Wonderland. That the film does not explore my pet topic was disappointing but ultimately not fatal.

In all other respects the portrayal of young Alice Liddell was excellent. Amelia Shankley turned in a fine performance. She is clearly the best film Alice so far and it is a shame that they did not star her in an actual Alice film right after "Dreamchild" was completed. And Coral Browne was equally excellent as the older Alice.

This film is about how Alice's mother (who felt her daughter could find much better candidates for marriage as she moved into her teens) essentially poisoned her memories of Dodgson, leading her to believe that there was something wrong about his feelings for her (when in fact he was just a childlike personality who loved her more than his other child friends, but always with a shy innocence). It is also about the guilt the older Alice still feels over abandoning him just as she entered her teens, especially after all the innocent kindness he had shown. She is in denial about her affection for Dodgson and irritated because all the attention of his centennial is forcing her to recall those long-suppressed years of her life. And finally she feels that since she was not actually the little heroine who exhibited so much courage in "Wonderland", she does not deserve her sudden celebrity status. In her view she was catapulted into fame "by simply doing nothing". Remember that Wonderland Alice is arguably the bravest literary heroine of all time.

What ultimately redeems the film is the climatic scene in the hall of Columbia University. Alice Liddell flashes back to a scene late in her relationship with Dodgson, a symbolic scene meant to represent the end of their relationship. She had outgrown him at this point in her life and she laughs and humiliates him as he attempts to sing his Lobster Quadrille song to the three Liddell sisters and their male suitors. When her mind returns to the present she hears the Columbia University orchestra and glee club performing the same song. She realizes that the story which she once rejected was in fact his personal tribute to her and that even after all these years each little detail of his creation is admired throughout the world. At this point she finally gets it. She goes back to the symbolic scene as her older sister Lorina reads the final paragraph from the Wonderland book, the one in which Dodgson reveals the reason he made up the story. Then the child Alice walks over, kisses Dodgson in apology, and places her head on his chest (an omission for which she has long felt guilty). Then we are back in the hall and find that in place of her prepared speech she has read this same passage to the now applauding crowd.

The point is that she finally understood that the story was a gift to her and to future generations of children, that she had inspired the story and had been the model for his heroine. With this realization came the final gift of knowing that the virtues Mr. Dodgson gave his heroine: innocence, courage, curiosity, wonder, kindness, intelligence, courtesy, humor, dignity, and a sense of justice; were virtues he credited to the real Alice.

It is hard to imagine a better scene (or sequence of scenes) than the climatic one detailed above. Film and video cannot hope to compete with books in communicating thoughts. But with the right players film can visually communicate moments of character realization and transformation to a degree much more subtle and personal than what any author can write. This is the real magic of film and acting for the camera. In the end these climatic moments say everything that needs be said about the relationship between Dodgson and his "dreamchild". A truly great cinematic moment and my all-time favorite.
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An Obsessive Love and Dark Memories
timpuckett22 February 2004
"Dreamchild" is a dark yet beautiful tale of an elderly woman haunted by the famous author who adored her as a child. It deals with love and fear, memories and the past, and the final recociliation of the two. Each character is succinctly and sympathetically drawn, from Lucy the young and naieve maid of the elderly Victorian Mrs. Alice Hargreaves (nee Liddell), who, on her first visit to America, cannot understand the intense attention given to her because of her connection to Lewis Carroll/Rev. Dodgson. The movie seamlessly shifts from the present (New York during the Despression) to the past (Victorian England at Oxford University). Real fans of Alice in Wonderland may object to this depiction of Wonderland characters in a harsher, angrier light; such as when the 80 year old Mrs. Hargreaves meets the Mad Hatter. The Reverend Dodgson does not stand accused as Michael Jackson or like some members of the clergy today, but Mrs. Hargreaves does ask "My mother destroyed all his letters. Why would she do that?" But the younger Alice, when asked by her mother, "Why on earth would he say that to you?" answers straighforwardly, "Because he loves me, of course." A thought provoking film worth seeing if you can find it.
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Wishing for the DVD
jim-149031 December 2005
This is both a beautiful and disturbing film. Ian Holm (recently playing Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) plays the Reverend Dodgson whom the world better knows as Lewis Carroll. Holm expertly dances on the razor's edge of Dodgson's obsession with the youngest of the three Liddle sisters. This is all experienced in recollections of the elderly Alice as she crosses the Atlantic to attend a 100th Birthday Celebration of Lewis Carroll. As she nears the end of her voyage, her dreams start to bleed into her realities. The Wonderland characters are perfectly grotesque Muppet versions performed by Jim Hemson's Creature Shop (we're not talking Kermit nor Miss Piggy here). This is based on the true people and is lovingly interwoven into a fictional account of the true voyage Alice Liddle Hargraves made to Oxford University in 1932. If you're lucky to have the VHS tape, guard it with your life, mine was destroyed and I can only pray this film will be transfered to DVD. Though we're talking Alice in Wonderland and Muppets, this is not a film for those under 17.
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The Viewer in Wonderland
j_eyon-210 August 2003
Very moody and stylish movie - whose plot switches between three venues - the 1860s when Lewis Carroll introduced the Wonderland tales to young Alice and her sisters - the 1930s when the aged Alice visited the U.S. months before her death - and the surreal world of the Alice in Wonderland stories with story characters portrayed by wickedly designed Jim Henson puppets

Four actresses stand out in my memory - Coral Browne as the starchy old Alice - Amelia Shankley as the young selfcentered Alice - Nicola Cowper as old Alices companion and love interest to the young American reporter played by Peter Gallagher - and - in a small role - Caris Corfman as a wistful newspaper reporter - in addition to many fine British and American actors

My only gripe is Ian Holm's age - Holm was in his early 50s when he portrayed Lewis Carroll - who was closer to 30 when he first told the stories - there were concerns in his time about the purity of his interest in his child friends and photography subjects - such as Alice - Ian Holm brings that frightfully to life

This film took great care in evoking the respective time periods - using beautiful set designs and photography - as a result - the movie is itself an exotic journey into other times and places - with Alice still as protagonist
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Dreaming down the days
alicespiral5 November 2004
In order to fully appreciate this movie a knowledge of both Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll is recommended. For a film associared with Dennis Potter--who'd previously written an Alice in the 60s...you might expect smut but there's none here. Its all done very tastefully so it would disappoint anyone looking for titillation. Jane Asher has a minor role as Mrs.Liddell,shown as a chaperone on the famous river outing.She played Alice herself in the early 60s for a couple of studio casts. Though its artistic license to suggest Mrs.Hargreaves took along her maid in reality there were two others,one of which was her granddaughter. I liked the scene where Mrs.Hargeaves read out a commercial---for which they'd pay her 1000s of dollars: ""once when I was a little girl I fell down a rabbit hole then picked up a bottle with a label on which said DRINK ME.But today I look for a bottle which says CHARDONAY"
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A Very Nice Biopic
iwantsofia15 September 2008
The relationship between 10-year-old Alice Liddell, the young girl for whom "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" was written, and Rev. Charles Dodgson a.k.a. Lweis Carroll, the book's author, is explored in this thought-provoking film.

The former Alice Liddell, now Alice Hargreaves, is invited by Columbia University to give a speech on the centennial of Dodgson's / Carroll's birth. She meets a reporter who becomes her agent and romances her assistant. Meanwhile, she is haunted by childhood memories of her time spent with Mr. Dodgson.

A mostly good script by Dennis Potter only disappoints when focusing on the romance. The excellent cast makes up for the few shortcomings. Amelia Shankley debuts as the young Alice Liddell, and gives a fine performance. She later appeared in a three part adaptation of A Little Princess (1986) and Red Riding Hood (1988). Imogen Boorman, who plays older sister Lorina, went on to co-star in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988).
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Wonderland Creatures Grow Old, Bitter, Mangy
wfaze12 March 2006
I had sought out a DVD copy of this wonderful film on Amazon, and was informed that it was un-released; therefore I was surprised one Saturday evening a couple weeks ago, while rooting through a bin of budget DVDs at a local supermarket, to find a copy of "Dreamchild" -- and for $1, no less! The reproduction quality is very poor, but the gist of this remarkable film is still there.

One can read the plot synopsis on other postings -- in 1932, the aged Mrs. Alice Hargreaves (nee Alice Liddell)(played by Coral Browne), has been invited from England to Columbia University to participate in the celebration of the centenary of a friend from her childhood, Rev. Charles Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll). She doesn't quite understand why all the fuss about "Queer Mr. Dodgson, who told such amusing tales," nor is she comfortable with the New World of New York, and the New Age of the twentieth century, and the threat they present to her Victorain mind and morality. (The use of names here is very important: she insists on being referred to as Mrs. Hargreaves, and he as Mr. Dodgson, while the world at large thinks on them as Alice and Lewis Carroll.) As she contemplate the passing of her world, and her own impending mortality, we are given flashbacks to her youth -- boating parties on the Thames with her family and their friends, including Lewis Carroll, who regales them with the stories and poems that will become "Alice in Wonderland" -- and dreams and hallucinations that take the form of scenes from that book.

There is a sub-plot which consists of Mrs. Hargreaves relations and attitudes towards her traveling companion, a young woman named Lucy (Nicola Cowper), and her budding romance with a pushy New York reporter (Peter Gallagher).

However, it's the memory and dream scenes that really propel this movie forwards. The subject of the adult Carroll's relationship with pre-pubescent girls is a tricky one -- whether it was pure platonic friendship or sexual paedophilia, repressed or expressed, is a question whose answer is lost in the discrete mists of history, and is less important in the long run than the great and enduring work of literature which it produced. This film treats the matter with a subtlety unmatched by any other film on so delicate a topic. The charisma between Ian Holm's besmitten, uncomfortable, stuttering Carroll, and Amelia Shankley's almost unconsciously flirtatious Child Alice, is astounding.

In the "Wonderland" hallucination scenes, the various characters Alice (represented by the adult Mrs. Hargreaves) meets -- the March-hare, the Mad Hatter, et al. -- are created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop; but get all notion of cute, funny muppets out of your head: these are horrific apparitions, having aged like Alice herself, and grown mangy, snaggle-toothed, and surly (or surlier: they're pretty surly in Carroll's original story) -- in fact, the manifestations of those emotions and memories from her youth which Mrs. Hargreaves has so long repressed, and which, at the touching final scenes of the film, she learns to acknowledge and accept.
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Amazing film with an amazing story
kaaber-215 May 2001
I absolutely fell in love with this film when I saw it in Denmark in 1988. I can add nothing to the praise already given on this board, but the story behind the film is equally amazing. Apparently, the producers, Thorn-EMI, shelved this gem due to a palace revolution in the company. It was tied up in a package with some films nobody would buy, to the mortification of director Gavin Millar, writer Dennis Potter, and star Coral Browne. It ran for a very short time in Shaftesbury Av., London, where Danish Carsten Brandt from Posthusteatret in Copenhagen saw it, secured a copy - upon which the film ran for four straight years, every evening in his theatre.

I saw it some ten times during that run, and I suppose I shall never tire of it.

It's alarming how easy it is to keep a good film down for years if it's not promoted properly. Luckily, it has found its way to both movie theatres and TV since.
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Must see test piece for Henson before Labyrinth
stephen-6325 January 2001
Made entirely in England and yet not available in England, this film seems to lead us into dark corners only for the sun to shine brightly at the end, beautifully and carefully paced and with many very talented actors, especially the young Alice. This film predates Labyrinth by only a few months, and we can see in the Mad Hatter an early and successful test piece for Labyrinths Hoddle - even better though we can see the real life actor inspiring Hoddles face, as played by Ken Campbell. A must see companion piece to Labyrinth. Trek fans can note that Cheryl (Gates) McFadden (TNG Dr Crusher) also choreographed puppet movement for this movie.
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One of those truly beautiful films nobody has ever seen.
sylvain-1429 November 2014
The fate of movies is a mystery.

Why should it be that certain mediocre films draw crowds large enough to wrap twice around the block, only to be just as soon forgotten, while others, marvelous films, never catch on at all, and end up lost through decades, waiting only to be rediscovered one day, when a DVD edition suddenly blesses them with a second life?

DreamChild is a monumental work of art that rests on another monumental work. Of course, it helps that as a kid, I was fascinated by Lewis Carrol's famous adventures of Alice in Wonderland and Thru the Looking Glass, as well as the wild and often creepy, psychedelic universe beautifully rendered by artist Sir John Tenniel. It's worth noting that, to this day, we owe Tenniel most of the representations we have of the worlds and characters described by Carrol.

DreamChild a beautiful film in so many respects. Deeply moving and inviting us, the viewer, to reflect upon the true forces that guide the murky, and sometimes tortuous process from which art is born.

The screenplay by Dennis Potter is airtight, witty, often funny, but also dark and complex. Ian Holm as the Reverend Dodgson delivers one of the two best performances of his life (The Sweet Hereafter being the other). Curiously, both deal with the agonizing pain of holding back.

Even little Amelia Shankley, who plays young Alice Lydell, the muse throughout the film, is deeply haunting and complex, juggling the tricky emotions that carry the entire picture through to its resolution.

This was a fairly low budget production, shot entirely in the UK, but Roger Hall's masterful art direction can convince even a savvy movie buff that he is watching a pricey period picture set in New York City's Great Depression era. Gavin Millar, the director, is mature enough to let his camera witness a powerful story without artifice.

There is not one bad choice in this picture, right down to a gorgeous musical score by Stanley Myers. Finally, Jim Henson and his team of artists recreated the wildest and most beloved characters of Alice in Wonderland as animatronic puppets which, thirty years on, hold up perfectly and allow the film to soar with its unique, organic, and at times theatrical charm.

I saw this picture in New York City, in 1986, when it received a limited release, and I recall being instantly enchanted by it. I had to accept a poor videotape copy for years and years, until one of the film's crew members in the UK was kind enough to obtain a better copy for me, which I have cherished. But now, a DVD-R has been released in the film's original 1:85/1 ratio and I was recently able to watch it all again, at last in a perfect presentation.

DreamChild is a great big film which only had a small life, but it is worth discovering on DVD. It's a picture that could well stay with you for the rest of your life.

It did with me.
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Amazing Cinema
Vorple31426 May 2006
Watched this again tonight. Truly an exceptional movie. Love and time and death seem to be the predominate themes. A muse ripped from time and confused with the temporal wish against the universal need. An honest and pure statement of inspiration, satisfaction, frustration, and restraint against wisdom. I wish it were letter boxed on DVD for the Henson segments. Any extras would be phenomenal. Has anyone seen this in theater? It must have been a rare moment. I don't know if a soundtrack exists but it would be excellent. Everything from big band to Victorian nonsense. OK, it isn't historically accurate and Alice and Charles may have some corrective input if they were able to comment. Still, it is an exceptional, sincere, and intriguing story.
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A delightfully unique film
rgshanks22 November 2000
A delightfully unique film which explores a historically researched image of Lewis Carroll as a man with a fixation (albeit merely platonic) on young girls, and expands the premise to consider the effect that his obsessions may have had on the later life of his model for Alice. Holm's impersonation of Carroll is of a gentle but, at times, pathetic figure whose passion for the company of Alice Liddell is matched only by that for the development of his characters and narrative that were to become the "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" classics, for which Alice Liddell was his model. The young Alice is sweetly and endearingly played by Amelia Shankley in the flashback sequences with Holm, but the film is also centred around the attendance at a celebration of the centenary of Carroll's birth of the now 70-year old Alice, portrayed by Coral Browne. This older Alice is shown as a woman who has been shackled by her long celebrity as the role-model for the famous literary character and who has lived her life in a way which ensured that she was always seen to live up to that pure public image of her. As she travels to and arrives in America for the celebrations, various factors conspire to force her to acknowledge her symbolic insularity - the contrast between the brashness of the New World and the strictures of a society in which she has lived - the love affair which breaks out between her travelling companion and one of the reporters who meets her ship on arrival, an affair which initially brings to the surface strong but automatic emotions of aversion and disapproval. Gradually, she starts to question and, ultimately, to reject her past and all the values implicit in it. This is symbolised most vividly in the dream sequences in which she interacts with some of the characters from the "Alice" stories. Whilst created by Jim Henson's Muppet workshop, these images of Carroll's creations are not the cuddly, friendly visions reminiscent of, for instance, the Disney adaptation or other mainstream productions, but are much more darkly drawn, much more foreboding, much more, in fact, like the original illustrations of Carroll's work by John Tenniel. Rather than in the interests of authenticity, it seems that this depiction is chosen in order to represent the powerful hold of constriction in which these characters have held Alice. In the dream sequences, the creatures begin by continuing their overbearing influence over Alice but she gradually comes to question their power and their very existence as the circumstances unfold which cause her to evaluate her own life, until, in the final dream sequence, she ultimately rejects them completely, thus releasing herself to live out the rest of her days free of their restrictions and of the constraints of her whole past life. Throughout all these tribulations and inner examinations, Corale exudes a haunting and ever-calm aura in one of the most subtle examples of underacting it is possible to imagine.
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A film of great power and astonishing depth
Marta22 February 1999
The Rev. Charles Dodgson must have been an enigmatic figure. Quiet and withdrawn when in the company of adults, he metamorphosed into a riveting teller of stories, riddles and anecdotes when a child was listening. "Dreamchild" addresses this remarkable facet of his personality in a way that leaves the viewer truly in awe.

Augmented by Jim Henson's Creatures, which are fantastic and amazing, they are the perfect foil for the delicate nuances of the Rev. Dodgson's love for Alice. Coral Brown should have gotten the Oscar for this role; she is devastating as the dying, repressed but ultimately enlightened Alice. Her realization that Dodgson truly loved her in a pure, reverent way is a masterpiece of acting. The film resonates with the power of Brown's performance, Amelia Shankley's bravura acting as the young Alice, and Ian Holm's as Dodgson. I couldn't imagine another actor in any of these roles, and that's as high a tribute as I can give. Watching Holm's face as he listens to Alice sing, without her knowledge, almost breaks your heart.

In a movie this fine, I can only find one drawback, and that's the subplot of the modern love story between the reporter and her maid. But it's a small quibble. This film deserves to be seen again and again, as I've watched it.
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This is not Disney-fied Alice in Wonderland
Alan-402 November 1998
This is a film incredibly rich in detail. I saw it over ten years ago and still remember specific scenes vividly. Ian Holm's interpretation of a shy maths teacher in love with the pubescent Liddle is perfectly believable.
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Eventually emerges as a good movie
dcorr12312 January 2007
The central story is excellent. Coral Browne, Amelia Shankley and, of course, Ian Holm are all excellent. Too much time is spent is spent on Alice's assistant, Lucy and reporter Jack Dolan. In my opinion, they're uninteresting and irrelevant. Although many people apparently like the Jim Henson creations for this movie, I find them inferior copies of the Tenniel illustrations and even more poorly "operated". There has been much discussion about the question of Dodgson's feelings for Alice. One thing has been left out of these discussions or perhaps reviewers are not aware of. Even if Dodgson's feelings were sexual, that would not have been regarded as especially inappropriate in Victorian England. The Victorians might have had what we would consider repressed attitudes towards sex, but that did not extend to age differences. The age of legal consent was 12 and men often married girls much younger than themselves. The only real impropriety from the Victorian viewpoint was that Dodgson wasn't considered the social equal of the Liddell family.
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This film is not a rendition of Carroll/Dodgeson's books....
drkjedi1-220 April 2004
This film is about the presumption that because Dodgeson cared so greatly for Alice there must be something wrong with him because he was a bachelor and not supposed to care for children or little girls. It has to do with Victorian society and their ridiculous notions that a bachelor couldn't love children the way a father would and that he must be ill. Mrs. Hargreaves nightmares were from the implications and assumptions made by her mother most noteably and only her sister seemed to really understand Dodgeson just cared for Alice as a doting uncle or second father figure.

Dodgeson was suspected of unnatural love for children for ages but there has never been any evidience that he was such a man and that he just had a great love for children. And in Victorian England for a confirmed bachelor that just didn't seem natural to people. How sad that even today people still believe it even with no evidence to support it... pshaw!

Had he gotten married and had children of his own no one would have even thought such thoughts but because he was a confirmed bachelor...silly silly silly... This is a stunning film I don't care much for Peter Gallagher but the "what if" story of the real Alice's reactions to the assumptions of Dodgesons character by the adults of her childhood is splendid and beautifully told.
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Pure Genius From Dennis Potter
suttca22 December 2003
I will be short. This is unquestionably one of the finest films ever made and certainly a love story to rival Antony and Cleopatra. The movement between Alice in old age, youth and fantasy is seemless. The acting superb. The writing, needless to say, genius. Miss this film and you miss the most touching and true story ever. This film was never meant to be an "Alice in Wonderland", it is about the glorius Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. Enjoy!
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"A 10!"
gage-811 October 2000
Top of my list for, "Why isn't there a special edition WIDESCREEN DVD?" The first project of Jim Henson's Creature Features Shop...this film is in my top 10 favorites.
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Inaccurate, Yet Nearly Perfect
jarobledo319 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This semi-biographical film is one of my most prized possessions in my "Alice" collection. This movie has its ups and its down, but, at the end of the day, it's one of the best I've seen. It does have its flaws, however: first of all, the historical accuracy in this is dreadful. While the periods - Victorian Age England and Depression Era America - seem to have had a good deal of research done into them, as has the published book of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," the history of said book and events seems to have been ignored, or only slightly researched. Perhaps ironically, it is the "present day" scenes that give the low points of the film. Coral Browne as the aged Alice Hargreaves, nee Liddell, is marvelous; she puts so much soul into it, I begin to wonder if we are really seeing Browne as Browne, or Browne as Mrs. Hargreaves. However, the fictional character of Lucy, the nursemaid, bores me, and the love story between her and the reporter Jack Dolan (could his name be a possible reference to the Knave of Hearts?), is dull, unnecessary, and historically insulting.

That being said, the flashbacks and hallucination(?) scenes are brilliant. In the latter, Jim Henson's team gives us the world of Wonderland, seen through the eyes of an older Alice. Naturally, if "Alice" has grown older, and "darker" in her thoughts, then so, too, must Wonderland. Expect no hysterical Muppets or cuddly Sesame Street critters here: this Wonderland and its denizens ties with the "American McGee's Alice" games and the Czech film, by Jan Svankmajer, for sheer creepiness. Think "Dark Crystal," not "Muppets Take Manhattan." Henson's team takes Tenniel's illustrations, and twists them, ever so slightly, making them more nightmarish than ever before: The Mock Turtle's eyes are red and sore, his mouth twisted in a perpetual sneer, face stained with copious amounts of tears. The Gryphon, meanwhile, appears to be molting (at least on his upper half). The Dormouse is mangy, while the March Hare's teeth are crooked and bloodstained, his eyes bugged out of his skull, creating a close-up visage that could give Chuck Norris nightmares. The Mad Hatter may be the scariest of the bunch: his hair is wild and red, his eyes bloodshot, his body ravaged and gnarled, his voice gravelly, his body and mind unbalanced, and his temperament expertly mercurial, going from a perfect gentleman to a savage, murderous beast within a matter of seconds. The Caterpillar's blue coloring seems to be due to breathing problems, his bright orange legs giving him a poisonous look. Add two gangly, humanoid arms and a decidedly human face, and he is all the more freakish.

These characters and scenes, despite being historically inaccurate, also seem to have a good deal of research done for them: at the Mad Tea Party, for example, the Mad Hatter strokes the Dormouse like a pet several times, as well as, like in the books, trying to stuff him in a teapot. This is because Dormice, in Victorian times, were often kept as pets, and were sometimes housed in teapots. As well as being why the Hare and Hatter try to put him inside the pot in the books, it also explains the Hatter's actions toward the little rodent during this scene.

These, along with the 1972 musical film, are the definitive versions of the characters, despite, or perhaps because of, their surliness. The flashbacks of Alice's childhood with Charles Dodgson, alias Lewis Carroll, are of equal excellence. Ian Holm is about ten years too old for the part, but, otherwise, is perfectly cast; he captures the spirit of the author so well, that it makes it hard for the viewer to figure out whether we are seeing a realization or an idealization of the shy, eccentric, enigmatic man whose imagination knew no bounds. The debate as to whether Carroll was pedophilic in his intentions around the young Ms. Liddell is never really decided upon, but I, like the movie, believe it really doesn't matter: for better or worse, Carroll's relationship with Alice Liddell gave us the "Alice" stories, and I cannot bear the thought of living without them.

Amelia Shankley makes the list as my favorite Alice: she not only portrays the younger self of "the real Alice," but is also given the job of playing the storybook character we all know and love in the hallucination/dream sequences. While her appearance barely changes between the two, her personality does shift: the "real" Alice is obviously meant to be real, while the fictional Alice captures all the same aspects shown in Ms. Liddell – mischief, naivety, and a dash of impertinence, all still given a lovable, almost sensual, coating – and manages them differently, so that we never get the "real" Alice and the "false" Alice confused. (A possible plot device, or just my silly imagination? You be the judge.)

Despite its historical inaccuracies, which run amok, this film should be REQUIRED as something all lovers of Lewis Carroll and the "Alice" tales should view at least once in their lifetime.
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Overall an interesting watch
HellsingGirlyCard4 April 2012
Although this film is almost impossible to get let alone watch I successfully managed to find it. Being a person who has been researching the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell this film does provide an interesting view to what I presume if a fictional representation of an older Alice Liddell travelling to New York and recalling her memories of Lewis Carroll. Alas if you are looking for anything with a direct point or opinion as to what was the relationship between Lewis and Alice then I fear you won't get much. A downfall for this film was adding the fictional character Sally to the story and her useless storyline however it was a pleasure to see Coral Browne play a good role as Alice Liddell and Ian Holm's role was well played. Overall an interesting watch.
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Deep Insights Into Repression Vs The Imagination And Inner Spirit
johnstonjames19 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
one of the things i've always felt was truly fascinating about the Reverend Dodgson's beloved literary classic, is the times in which it was written (iconology? iconography? can't remember which is which). the story of Alice's whimsical adventures was written during the stifling repression of Victorian England's mores.

there really was a sort of dichotomy and disconnect between who the Reverend Dodgson was and his pen name of Lewis Carroll and the experimental photographer. it's almost like they were two different people. i mean lets face it. i love the work of 'Alice', it's my favorite work of art, and next to the Christian Bible, my favorite book ever published. but honestly, i do find it pretty strange reading. anyone who goes off babbling about Jabberwockies and says things like "twas brilling and the slithey toves", isn't really functioning with a full deck of cards. most of Carroll's wonderful book, as wonderful as it is, sounds like schizophrenic babble. maybe i'm just repressed and uptight myself, but i can't help thinking that observation. and i wasn't born yesterday. i know when someone sounds like they're crazy and a wing nut. i've been around enough crazies in my life. i suffer from mental illness myself and have been hospitalized with other wing nuts, so, hey, i know.

big s--t. no biggie. most people are pretty crazy and we definitely know most artist and talented people can be pretty off the wall. in fact when you read about most actors and musicians these days, they seem like they are from another frickin planet. so i'm sure Carroll was in pretty good company with other great and famous people. didn't the Timbo Burton say "some of the best people are mad?". maybe so. dunno.

'Dreamchild' is a incredible film and one of the very best 'Alice' films. it makes deep observations into the fictional story as well as the psychology of the real life characters. it's a brilliant juxtaposition of the unreal and the very real. it is also one of cinema's best films about the elderly and the reality of dying.

Coral Browne also gives, in my opinion, one of cinema's best female performances. along with Amelia Shankley in this film, she is one of the very best Alices.

all the performances in this film are exceptional, as is the exquisite direction by Gavin Millar.

this film is really not for children. it's not that it's too racy or offensive, it's material is just way over the heads of children and most young adults. especially the idiot adrenalin junkies who think the lackluster Tim Burton version is the very best.

adult filmmaking doesn't get much better than this or more mature and thoughtful. a breath of fresh air that reminds older, more mature audiences, that 'Alice', and entertainment in general, doesn't ALWAYS have to be aimed at a under 30 crowd.
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an aging Alice revisits Wonderland
mjneu5915 November 2010
The wonderland of memory is revisited by 80-year-old Alice Hargreaves, who as a child was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's 'Alice In Wonderland'. Spoiled by a lifetime of coddling, the aging Alice arrives with her young ward in New York City to honor, reluctantly, Reverend Charles Dodgeson (aka Carroll), whom she recalls with unflattering cruelty as little more than a pathetic, lovestruck man with an embarrassing stutter. But soon the infirmities of age and the attention lavished on her in the New World begin to invoke the ghosts of her Victorian childhood, bringing to life the stories she once inspired and softening her rigid disposition. Some thematic strands are left dangling at the film's conclusion, but otherwise it's a charming fantasy about the redemptive powers of nostalgia, co-starring the delightfully malevolent Wonderland denizens of Muppet-man Jim Henson.
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Brilliant, touching, poignant, and very, very thought provoking
aciolino21 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Thanks largely to the touching performances of Coral Browne and Ian Holm this little film breaks through the border of simple story-telling to reach the heights of the profound.

It will be missed by many viewers. But as you watch this film, pay special attention to the feelings and thoughts that are provoked within you at certain key moments, for example, at the scene of the picnic the lake or any of Alice's recollections. Your reactions should be complex, maybe conflicted, and at the conclusion of the film, you may be completely satisfied but not know why. But your heart will know.

The subtle messages and meanings of this simple story cannot fail to move you, if you remain open to them. Do not be distracted by lack of drama or a mundane script. They are mere incidentals. The "truth" is there, and will astonish you.

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