On February 1st, 2011 Walt Disney brings us the 60th anniversary re-release of the animated classic, Alice in Wonderland.

Alice was Disney’s thirteenth animated feature film and initially was not well received in its initial theatrical release back in 1951.  Over the years, however, public opinion of the film has changed and it is now widely regarded as one of Disney’s classic masterpieces.

This is Alice’s first time in hi-def on Blu-ray disc.  Naturally, I watched the Blu-ray copy for this review and I have to say, it looks amazing!

The first thing you’ll notice (for those of you with wide screen TVs) is that the picture doesn’t fill the screen.  While this is true, you have to remember that this was done at a time when not all movies filled up an entire screen in a theater and they used to close the curtains to the edges of the movie’s picture.  Now that I’ve told you that, watch it with the “Disney View” mode on!  There’s some pretty sweet border artwork that fills up the sides of the screen where you would normally see black spaces.  It reminds me of the old movie theaters bringing in the curtains up to the sides of the projection.  The art is complimentary to the scene you happen to be watching and doesn’t distract from the overall movie watching experience.

The next thing I would have to say about this release is I give high praise to Disney on the re-mastering and hi-def transfer to Blu-ray!  The picture quality is incredible!  The color in the movie is now very bright and doesn’t have that “washed out” look that it’s had for years!  But don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself!

Comparison of the same frame from the film both before (left) and after (right) the restoration process.

I highly recommend checking out all the bonus features Disney’s packed onto this release as well.

There was something interesting I noticed in the bonus feature “Walt Disney Color TV Introduction”.  It was Christmas time 1959 and Walt made a reference to the annual Christmas pantomimes that took place in England in which they held performances of such stories as Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.  Two stories that Walt Disney Animation would later go on to produce and would both become blockbuster feature animated movies just over 30 years later.  A little foreshadowing perhaps, or was someone at Disney Animation looking to Walt years later for inspiration and ideas?

The bonus feature entitled “Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland” is also a new bonus exclusive to the Blu-ray release.  Kathryn Beaumont (the voice of Alice) gives an introduction on this feature.  This (in my opinion) replaces the commentary feature that’s on most DVD/Blu-ray discs but it presents it in a different fashion.  There are interviews with historians (of both Disney and Lewis Carroll) but they are all on-screen instead of just voices while you watch the movie.  Meantime, a smaller windowed version of the movie is playing which is useful for references made to scenes as they play.

This is definitely one to add to your collection.  Even if you don’t yet own a Blu-ray player, I say pick up the Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.  You still get a DVD version of the movie and if you later pick up a Blu-ray player, you don’t have to go out and purchase a separate Blu-ray copy later!

Blu-ray Disc Bonus Features:

Brand-New Blu-ray Features:

• Through the Keyhole: A Companion’s Guide to Wonderland – View the movie in this special mode and discover references to the original Lewis Carroll classic. Kathryn Beaumont introduces.

• Disney View – Watch the movie in this expanded viewing experience with new Disney art in the wings of the screen.

• Painting the Roses Red Game – Help paint the roses red in the Queen’s garden. Careful, or someone could lose their head.

• Walt Disney Color TV Introduction (1959) – A never-before-seen color TV intro by Walt.

• Reference Footage: Alice and the Doorknob – Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice, provides an introduction to this newly discovered reference footage of Alice talking to the doorknob.

• Pencil Test: Alice Shrinks – Kathryn Beaumont introduces a newly discovered pencil test of Alice shrinking.

Plus, Classic Features:

• “I’m Odd” Newly Discovered Cheshire Cat Song + Intro

• Thru the Mirror Mickey Mouse Animated Short (Now in Hi-Def)

• Art Gallery (with new design and new images)

• Reflections on Alice

• Operation Wonderland (Now in Hi-Def)

• One Hour in Wonderland

• An Alice Comedy: Alice’s Wonderland

• Original Theatrical Trailers (1951 & 1974)

• Walt Disney TV Introduction (1954 & 1964)

• The Fred Waring Show (Excerpt)

• Deleted Materials:

  • Deleted Scene: Pig and Pepper
  • From Wonderland to Neverland: The Evolution of a Song – An entertaining look at how a song originally written for Alice in Wonderland, finally found its home in another Disney favorite, Peter Pan.
  • Deleted Storyboard Concept: Alice Daydreams in the Park – Deleted storyboard sequence set to music.
  • Original Song Demos: “Beware The Jabberwock”; “Everything Has A Useness”; “So They Say”; “Beautiful Soup”; “Dream Caravan”; “If You’ll Believe In Me”