March 04, 2010

Mad Tea Parties Compared

Since my most popular blog post remains the one on the Alice Windows in Daresbury, and there is a big new movie version of Alice in Wonderland coming out tomorrow, I'd thought I'd look at some comparative takes on the Mad Tea Party scene. Here is the original text for The Mad Tea-Party, with the Tenniel illustrations.

I'm putting the scenes in no particular order. Starting with the 1966 version directed by Jonathan Miller. Even though this is one of the weirdest, and least "Tenniel-based" of the adaptations, it is also one of the most true to the words and structure of the scene. I'm a sucker for great British character actors, and this is loaded with them. Peter Cook's trippy and mesmerizing version of the Mad Hatter is memorable.

Seven more variations of the scene below the fold...

Meryl Streep in a musical version of Alice - huh?

1983 TV sersion with Kate Burton as Alice and Andre Gregory as the Mad Hatter

a version from 1985 with some pretty strange casting choices (Telly Savalas as the Cheshire cat?!) including Anthony Newley as the Mad Hatter and and Roddy Macdowell as the March Hare. This is notable as one of the few live action versions that actually casts a real child as Alice, rather than a teenager or adult as Alice.

The 1952 Disney version. Being a Disney version, it is the one least like the Carroll original. Ed Wynn did the voice for the Mad Hatter, and Jerry Cologna for the March Hare.

1933 Hollywood version with Edward Everett Horton as the Mad Hatter
only found it over 2 sections
starts at 7:25

then the first 2 minutes of this part

if those disappear, there is this crude recorded version as well, that at least give a sense of the general approach.

this is from Dreamchild, from 1985,
written by Dennis Potter, of 'Singing Detective' Fame.
Bad video but gives the sense of the treatment of the scene
a much darker treatment it is, too
Jim Henson's workshop did the puppetry

Peter Sellers as the March Hare and Dudley Moore as the Dormouse
with weird musical outbreaks

Curiously, this is the second version of Alice in Wonderland to have Peter Sellers in the cast. He was the King of Hearts in the 1966 Jonathan Miller version.

1999 version. Computer graphics have crept into the mix with the CGI oversized heads. Martins Short as the Mad Hatter. This is another lousy recording but the only one I could find embedded.

I also could not find the whole thing in one place. There is a not terribly good or funny song and dance number right after this. Auntie's Wooden Leg, from the 1999 version of Alice in Wonderland.

And, of course - Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk?
Carroll refused to answer for a long time, but eventually came up with this - Both produce flat notes, neither of them musical
some other have suggested -
Edgar Allen Poe both wrote on one.

and finally, just to prove my long time Alice creds, here is a picture of my 25 year old well worn copy of the essential guide to Alice, The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner. Along with appropriate bookmark.

Posted by Tom at March 4, 2010 09:02 PM