Since its publication in 1865, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been adapted into a seemingly endless number of films, TV series, comic books, video games, and other forms of media. Along with the 1871 sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll’s story has been resurrected and re-envisioned for new audiences.
Here are some of the most notable adaptations of Wonderland through the years.
1. Alice in Wonderland (1903)
The first film adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was an eight-minute silent film short. Employing impressive special effects for the time, this was an early instance of filmmakers stretching themselves creatively to accommodate the fantastical world of the story.
2. Alice in Wonderland (1931)
As the first talkie, the hour-long 1931 adaptation was the first to employ Lewis Carroll’s iconic language, which was part of what made the original novels so remarkable.
3. Betty in Blunderland (1934)
By placing Betty Boop in Wonderland — or at least, something resembling Wonderland — Betty in Blunderland showed how Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland offered great potential for parody, something that has continued in the decades that followed.
4. Alice in Wonderland (1949)
The full-length French version of the story was largely unseen in the U.S. due to a dispute with Disney, which was hard at work on the animated version at the time. But the earlier French film blended live-action and stop-motion animation, another repeated fixture in Alice adaptations.
5. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Disney’s animated adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is undoubtedly the most well known. It solidified many of the features that have become commonplace and the most often parodied. It also underlined that the story was for children, in contrast to some of the more adult takes on it.
6. The New Alice in Wonderland (or What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?) (1966)
While only loosely based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the 1966 Hanna-Barbera TV movie blended familiar animated characters, like the Flintstones, with Wonderland characters and situations. It was a similar tactic as the one used with Betty in Blunderland, but for a younger audience, reflecting Disney’s take on Alice.
7. Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy (1976)
While several previous adaptations offered a more adult take on Alice, the 1976 porn version was definitely the most explicit. There were always weird sexual undertones to the story — with adult actors, they could be fully explored.
8. Fushigi no Kuni no Alice (1983-1984)
While not popular in the U.S., the Japanese anime adaptation of Alice brought the story to other parts of the world. And it broadened the plot, retelling both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
9. Alice in Wonderland (1985)
The star-studded 1985 TV movie Alice in Wonderland began the trend of getting big celebrities to play various roles within Wonderland. Almost everyone involved with this production was a major TV star at one point, ranging from Sherman Hemsley to Shelley Winters to Scott Baio. This version also explored darker terrain, with a prominent Jabberwocky.
10. The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987)
While The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland wasn’t the first to ditch Alice, it showed how easily any characters could be plopped into the Wonderland universe. Also, the film picked and chose what it wanted to use from Lewis Carroll’s novels.
11. Alice (1988)
Jan Švankmajer’s trippy take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was very weird and relentlessly dark. This captured the story’s unsettling subtext, and it also set the stage for more twisted adaptations down the line.
12. Adventures in Wonderland (1992-1995)
As the longest running Alice TV series, Disney’s early ’90s Adventures in Wonderland expanded on the world of the books. It’s by no means a direct adaptation, but it demonstrated the possibilities of world expansion.
13. Alice in Wonderland (1999)
The 1999 TV movie Alice was, in many ways, an updated version of the 1985 production, with major stars cameoing in various Wonderland roles, like Ben Kingsley, Martin Short, and Whoopi Goldberg. Aesthetically, the movie owed something to John Tenniel’s original illustrations, which also influenced later adaptations.
14. American McGee’s Alice (2000)
The only video game on this list, American McGee’s Alice is the darkest iteration yet. (Sure, there was the X-rated musical, but that was still fun.) The game gave us a bleak and frightening take on Alice, which continues to pop up in horror.
15. Alice (2009)
SyFy’s Alice miniseries was another reinvention, this time sending Alice 150 years forward and adding a sci-fi spin. Again, this showed how Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland could be translated to a different genre while still retaining many of the characters and themes of the original.
16. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Perhaps borrowing from other recent adaptations, Tim Burton’s Alice featured the title character as an adult returning to Wonderland. Alice was physically reminiscent of the Tenniel illustrations, though, of course, Burton put his own trademark spin on the characters.
17. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013-)
The recently premiered ABC series borrows from American McGee’s, with Alice in a sanitarium, while also adopting Disney elements (like its sister series Once Upon a Time) and even adding Aladdin to the mix. It’s a fairy tale mishmash that should be familiar to fans of the other ABC series.
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