Alice in Wonderland Adaptations (TV & Movies)

This is part of a series on fairy tale retellings I’m putting together. The other posts in the series (so far) include:

Fairy Tale Retellings: Cinderella
Fairy Tale Retellings; Beauty & the Beast
Cyrano de Bergerac Retellings in Books and Film
Alice in Wonderland Retellings (Books)

I adore Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll in all its many forms. While this isn’t a traditional fairy tale, I feel like it serves as a base storyline for some really great retellings just like many of my favorite fairy tales. I love this story SO MUCH, I had to split it into two posts – one for retellings in book format, and one for TV/movie adaptations. Be sure to also check out the post on Alice in Wonderland book retellings as well if you haven’t.

SyFy’s Alice (TV miniseries, 2 episodes)

Hands down my favorite is SyFy’s Alice! It’s a two episode mini-series with a total runtime of about 3 hours. Alice takes a look at what Wonderland might look like a century and a half later. This show may have spawned my deep and abiding love of Hatter. With a cast that includes Kathy Bates, Caterina Scorsone, Matt Frewer, Harry Dean Stanton, and Tim Curry, this is must-see TV.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (TV series, 1 season)

Did you know that the TV show Once Upon A Time spawned a spin-off show called Once Upon A Time in Wonderland? Well it DID! And I, for one, I really enjoyed this Once Upon a Time TV show spin-off. It’s sort of an Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin mash-up featuring Alice and her love-interest Cyrus (aka the genie) going head to head against the Red Queen and Jafar. Yes, at times it was cheesy and kind of lame, but here are five reasons why it’s actually great:

  1. The Red Queen/Emma Rigby is a glorious goddess and I could watch her all day long. My confusion over whether I wanted to be Emma Rigby or be with her was my first realization that I’m bi…
  2. The Knave of Hearts is my favorite brand of rascal, and I actually shipped him and Alice for a bit until more of his back story came out.
  3. Will + Anastasia 4eva
  4. Jafar/Naveen Andrews: I have a bit of a thing for villains, and Jafar was amazing and gorgeous in this show. Give me more of him any day, please!
  5. Emma Rigby some more (because she is just THAT GREAT).

Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Who could forget Disney’s iconic animated portrayal of Alice in their full-length animated feature film? Perhaps the most well-known adaption, this is some peoples’ only exposure to Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass! Can you even imagine? I love that it combined some of the best bits from both books.

Alice in Wonderland or What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1966 animated TV special)

I get the song from this movie that the Cheshire Cat sings (“What’s a nice kid like you doing in a place like this?”) stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who saw this version, haha. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera in 1966, but it must have had a re-run hey day in the late 80’s or early 90’s because I sure wasn’t alive in ’66 when it first aired!

Alice in Wonderland (1985 TV film/miniseries)

This is definitely my favorite full movie adaption of Alice. This was a two-part made-for-TV movie, Part 1: Alice in Wonderland and Part 2: Through the Looking Glass. I owned this on video tape and once VCRs went the way of the dinosaur I bought it on DVD. I still quote several of the White Queen’s lines (played by Carol Channing). Also Ringo Star is AMAZING as the Mock Turtle, and I get the Soup song stuck in my head on the regular. This adaption is probably the most true and accurate to the books that I’ve seen, and the musical numbers are amazing. If you’re an Alice fan and you haven’t seen this movie yet, I highly suggest you do so ASAP!

Alice in Wonderland (1999)

I adore Tina Majorino, and she stars as Alice along with a star-studded cast that includes Martin Short, Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Lloyd, Gene Wilder, and Ben Kingsley. Is it the BEST adaption? No. But it’s still worth a watch if you can find it!

Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998)

This version was a British made-for-TV film that aired in 1998, and was released to video in 2005. What I remember most about this version is she’s journeying across a chess-board (like the book, obvs) and her hair/costume keep changing as she progresses. I remember thinking that was king of neat, but don’t remember much else about this little-known version.

Adventures in Wonderland (TV series, 1992-1995)

This is another one where I’m like “Am I the only one who remembers this show?” It aired on Disney from 1992-1995 and I remember watching it in the morning before school every day. Alice would step through a full-length mirror in her bedroom and into Wonderland, where the denizens would usually help her with whatever lesson-of-the-day she needed to learn. I mostly remember that the Queen of Hearts was FABULOUS and loved shoes, haha. It was VERY early-90’s-tastic and I adored it.

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

What do you think? Did I capture YOUR favorite Alice adaptation? I know I didn’t talk about the Disney live-action Tim Burton movies – that’s because I hate them, haha. Do you have another favorite Alice adaptation you love? Tell me about it in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland Adaptations (TV & Movies)

  1. Pingback: March 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up – Elley the Book Otter

  2. Galena Simoes

    SyFy’s Alice is my favorite too! Definitely the best Hatter hands down. ❤

    I am surprised you didn't mention the 2010 Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland and the 2016 sequel Alice Through The Looking Glass. They aren't perfect, but definitely have their charms.


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