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The iconic Mad Hatter signpost.

The Disney film Alice in Wonderland has been planned out since the 1930's, as the first ever animated film by Disney. Ultimately, the film was not released until the year 1951. There were many different drafts of the film through the years, but probably the most intriguing one was the 1939 draft.

The draft had beautiful artwork done by talented British artist David Hall, a script by Al Perkins, and songs by Frank Churchill. The Leica reel composed for the film even had a voice cast, such as Cliff Edwards portraying the Talking Bottle. Walt Disney ultimately turned the draft down, as the denizens of Wonderland looked far too monstrous for his tastes, and were hard to animate, as they resembled the Teniel illustrations too closely. The tone overall was also incredibly grim and frightening, with most of the inhabitants of Wonderland being outright bloodthirsty towards poor Alice (such as the Mad Hatter and March Hare about to dice Alice into pieces with scissors and a knife, Alice being attacked by hordes of birds, and even being placed on a guillotine near the end).

Ultimately, the Disney studios instead went for a lighter, more modern approach with the final film. However, bits and pieces of this early version have emerged from time to time.


Plot

The film opens with Alice on a riverbank like in the final. She eventually sees the White Rabbit and follows him down a hole leading to a massive void of gems, stars, and ferocious bats. She then meets the talking bottle (voiced by Cliff Edwards), who offers to give Alice a drink of his magic, growing her and then shrinking her. When she shrinks, she is washed into Wonderland by her own tears. She is rescued by the Mouse, and then whisked off to the island of the Gryphon and Mock Turtle and participates in the Lobster Quadriddle. The Cheshire Cat then scares them all away, but befriends Alice in her hunt for the white Rabbit.

Songs

  • "It's Crazy to Be Sane"
  • "Lobster Quadriddle"

Avaliability

In 1944, 30 of Hall's illustrations were used in the book Walt Disney's Surprise Package, which contained a telling of the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland story.  As this book has not been avaliable for years, it is thus quite rare.  In 1986, a full-sized Alice's Adventures in Wonderland reprint was avaliable with dozens of Hall illustrations. The 1995 Archive Collection laserdisc also contained a recreation of the Leica reel of the film, but it was incomplete, as the last quarter of the script was missing (and the reel is not available on the Internet nor has ever been officially re-released). The songs commissioned for the film were also on the disc in a separate section, and some of them have been published in "Disney's Lost Chords".

A later DVD incorporated an excerpt of the film under the guise of a "deleted scene" from the final draft.

Thad Komorowski once compiled a zip file of these boards, but the file has dissapeared. Many of the the sketches that can be found are below.

Gallery

  • The original, more monstrous Cheshire Cat.
  • A large spread of the croquet scene
  • Notice that the teapot has an eye on it.
  • Alice being led to the guillotine
  • Multiple Hatters, glowing eyes hidden away, an eyeball doorknob...
  • Alice in a surreal forest
  • The March Hare had a gruesome visage.
  • The White Rabbit
  • The King of Hearts was once taller
  • Alice about to be guillotined.

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