Tag Archives: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland “Painting the Roses Red” (1951)

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Thoroughly tired of all the silliness in Wonderland, Alice wants more than ever to go home. Fortunately (maybe), the Cheshire Cat has returned with one last piece of advice. if Alice really wants to go home, then she needs to talk to the Queen.

“All ways here you see, are the Queen’s ways.”

“But I’ve never met any Queen!”

“You haven’t? You HAVEN’T? Oh, but you must! She’ll be mad about you, simply mad!”

And so, the Cheshire Cat reveals a shortcut to the gardens surrounding the Queen’s castle (which also happen to be the same gardens Alice saw through the keyhole when she first arrived in Wonderland). It’s a very pretty garden, but there are some odd things going on. For instance…there’s a bunch of cards running around, and they’re busy painting the roses. When Alice asks the cards what on earth they’re doing, they are all quick to explain (and this is the setting of “Painting the Roses Red”:

Alice in Wonderland “Painting the Roses Red” (1951)

Painting the roses red
We’re painting the roses red
We dare not stop
Or waste a drop
So let the paint be spread
We’re painting the roses red
We’re painting the roses red

Oh, painting the roses red
And many a tear we shed
Because we know
They’ll cease to grow
In fact, they’ll soon be dead
And yet we go ahead
Painting the roses red
Painting the roses red
We’re painting the roses red

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Alice: Oh, pardon me,
But Mister Three,
Why must you paint them red?

Cards: Huh? Oh!
Three: Well, the fact is, Miss,
We planted the white roses by mistake,
And…

Cards: The Queen she likes ’em red
If she saw white instead,
Two: She’d raise a fuss
Ace: And each of us
Cards: Would quickly lose his head

Alice: Goodness!

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Cards: Since this is the part we dread
We’re painting the roses red

Alice: Oh, Dear! Then let me help you!

Alice: Painting the roses red
We’re painting the roses red
Don’t tell the Queen what you have seen
Or say that’s what we said
But we’re painting the roses red
Alice: Yes, painting the roses red
Two: Not pink
Ace: Not green
Alice: Not aquamarine
All: We’re painting the roses red!

It’s a hilarious song with a ridiculous concept: the Ace, Two and Three of Clubs have mistakenly planted white roses instead of red ones, and because the Queen hates white roses, they’re hastily covering their mistake by painting the roses red (even acknowledging in their song that this will kill the roses entirely). But the Cards figure that killing the roses in the short term is better than losing their heads so, they continue to paint. Alice is happy to help in the work, but it’s ultimately not going to do the Cards any good, because here comes the Queen!!

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Alice meets the Queen of Hearts

After the Hearts line up in formation, the White Rabbit reappears to announce: “Her Imperial Highness, Her Grace, Her Excellency, Her Royal Majesty, the Queen of Hearts!”

Unfortunately for the cards, they left one rose only half painted, causing the completely mad Queen to bellow “Whose been painting my roses red??” The guilty cards plea for mercy but the Queen only shouts “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!” The cards are then dragged away as the others sing:

“They’re going to lose their heads, for painting the roses red!”

I absolutely love this song: it’s short and to the point and serves as a nice piece of filler to introduce the Queen of Hearts to the story. Despite only appearing in this last part of the film, the Queen of Hearts is considered one of the iconic Disney villains. I hope you enjoyed listening to “Painting the Roses Red.”

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See also:

Alice in Wonderland “The Un-Birthday Song” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland “All in the Golden Afternoon” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland “In a World of My Own” (1951)

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Alice in Wonderland “The Un-Birthday Song” (1951)

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Alice in Wonderland- The Cheshire Cat

After a series of nonsensical encounters, Alice makes her way further into Wonderland and encounters the Cheshire Cat. Still determined to find the White Rabbit, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat if he knows where to find him. While the Cat doesn’t know himself, he advises Alice to ask either the Mad Hatter or the March Hare, who is also mad. When Alice objects at the idea of “going among mad people” the Cheshire Cat remarks that “Oh you really can’t help that, most everyone is mad here.” Knowing this, Alice decides to take a chance and visit the March Hare on the grounds that maybe he’s not quite as mad as a Mad Hatter.

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Alice in Wonderland “The Un-Birthday Song” (1951)

As it turns out, the choice doesn’t really matter because Alice ends up seeing both anyway, as the pair are having a tea party at the  home of the March Hare (along with their friend the Dormouse). And it’s not just any kind of party either, it’s an Un-Birthday party!! The trio are gathered at a long table lined with all kinds of chairs and an eccentric collection of tea sets, all raucously wishing each other a very merry un-birthday.

The Mad Hatter was voiced by Ed Wynn (perhaps best remembered as Uncle Albert, the man who laughed so hard he kept floating up to the ceiling in Mary Poppins (1964)). The March Hare was voiced by Jerry Colonna (who also narrated the Disney shorts Casey at the Bat (1946) and The Brave Engineer (1950)). The Dormouse was voiced by Jimmy MacDonald, who also happened to be the voice of Mickey Mouse at the time (he played the world’s most famous mouse from 1948 until 1977, taking over from Walt Disney when the latter’s voice grew too hoarse to perform as Mickey.)

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As I was saying, the trio were all busy singing about un-birthdays:

A very merry unbirthday to me!
To who?
To me!
Oh you!

A very merry unbirthday to you!
Who me?
Yes, you!
Oh, me!

Let’s all congratulate us with another cup of tea!
A very merry unbirthday to you!

Alice is delighted with the song, but the Hatter and Hare are initially not pleased with her appearance (they insist there’s “no room” at the enormous table); but they’re quickly won over when Alice remarks how much she enjoyed their singing at this “birthday party.” (You’ll note a running gag in this interlude is that Alice is very nearly handed a cup of tea several times only to have it jerked away at the last possible moment). When the insulted Hare, Hatter and Dormouse insist that this is an “Un-Birthday Party,” Alice admits she doesn’t even know what that is, prompting the Hare and Hatter to explain:

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Now, statistics prove, prove that you’ve one birthday
Imagine, just one birthday every year
Ah, but there are three hundred and sixty four unbirthdays!
Precisely why we’re gathered here to cheer

Alice chimes in: Then today is my unbirthday too!

It is?
What a small world this is.
In that case…
A very merry unbirthday,
To me?
To you!

A very merry unbirthday
For me?
For you!

Now blow the candle out my dear
And make your wish come true
A very merry unbirthday to you!

An interesting detail about this film is that it was nearly entirely shot in live action to serve as reference for the animators. Fortunately for us, the live action footage of the Mad Tea Party survived to the present day, and a talented YouTuber by name of Broadway Classixs synced the two pieces of footage together to show the origins of this hysterical scene.

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The Mad Tea Party: Live Action/Animated Comparison

With the song over, Alice is eager to ask the Hatter and Hare if they know where the White Rabbit is, but it soon becomes obvious that holding any type of rational conversation is a near-impossible task. For one, the Hatter and the Hare are constantly interrupting each other (or Alice); second, the group is constantly changing places around the table so they can get clean tea cups and third…there’s no need to look for the White Rabbit because he comes running directly by! Unfortunately for the Rabbit, the Hatter and Hare decide he simply must stay for tea…and also that his pocket watch needs fixing (with butter, jam, sugar and a healthy splash of tea). The miserable Rabbit, still complaining that he’s late, hurries off and a frustrated Alice follows, thoroughly fed-up with the antics of the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. Even though Alice sang wistfully about living in a nonsense world at the beginning of the story, she’s quickly finding out that actually living in a nonsense world is quite another matter altogether.

And that’s “The Un-Birthday Song”! I hope you enjoyed it, for more Alice in Wonderland, see the links below. And also let me know if you liked this song in the comments 🙂

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For more Disney songs, see here

See also:

Alice in Wonderland “Painting the Roses Red” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland “All in the Golden Afternoon” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland “In a World of My Own” (1951)

Alice in Wonderland (1951) takes us down the rabbit hole

Alice in Wonderland “All in the Golden Afternoon” (1951)

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Alice in Wonderland “All in the Golden Afternoon” (1951)

After escaping the Dodo and his friends (who wanted to burn Alice alive in the White Rabbit’s house because they thought she was a monster), Alice continues to try and find said White Rabbit (the reason she tumbled into Wonderland in the first place) only to stumble into a large garden of talking flowers! I have to say this is one of my favorite sequences because the flowers are so beautifully animated, each with a distinct personality.

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The flowers seem to be led by the Red Rose, who is initially very kind to Alice. All of the flowers want to sing to Alice about how wonderful they are, but no one can agree on which flower they should sing about. The Red Rose decrees that they will all sing “All in a Golden Afternoon” because “that’s the song about all of us.” And so the flowers sing together with the Red Rose serving as the conductor (with Alice listening in wonder):

Little bread-and-butterflies kiss the tulips
And the sun is like a toy balloon
There are get up in the morning glories
In the golden afternoon
 
There are dizzy daffodils on the hillside
Strings of violets are all in tune
Tiger lilies love the dandy lions
In the golden afternoon
(The golden afternoon)

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There are dog and caterpillars and the copper centipede
Where the lazy daisies love the very peaceful life
They lead…
 
You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
For especially in the month of June
There’s a wealth of happiness and romance
All in the golden afternoon
 
All in the golden afternoon
The golden afternoon…

(Alice chimes in) 

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
For especially in the month of June
There’s a wealth of happiness and romance
All- (voice cracks)
(All together): All in the golden afternoon!
“All in the Golden Afternoon” is a beautiful song and a reasonably sane interlude after the ridiculousness of the Dodo (though it won’t be long before we’re thrown into the insanity of the Un-Birthday Party, but I digress…). Alice loves the song, but the good time doesn’t last: the flowers are very curious to know just what kind of flower Alice is. When the naturally befuddled girl can’t give a clear answer, the flowers come to the only natural conclusion: Alice must be a weed and weeds aren’t welcome in the garden, so out she goes!

I always thought it rather silly that the flowers would think Alice was a flower too (considering she doesn’t look anything like a flower), but then again, this IS Wonderland we’re talking about, most of the inhabitants aren’t known for their common sense (just wait until we get to the Queen of Hearts).
What do you think of All in the Golden Afternoon? Let me know your thoughts on this song in the comments below 🙂
For more Alice in Wonderland, see also:

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Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Oh dear…I actually had some hope for this sequel at first. When Alice Through the Looking Glass was announced, I felt excited because I’d enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and I was initially up for a return to this crazy world. And then the previews started and things got…weird (and I don’t mean weird in a good way).

The more I watched and learned, the more this felt like a re-hash of the first film (with Sasha Baron Cohen thrown into the mix). I’m not ALWAYS opposed to sequels, but if the best they can do is remix the original plot…then forget it!!

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The basic plot is as follows: Alice has spent the last three years sailing on the high seas (as she said she would do at the end of the first film) but finds upon returning home that her ex-fiance has bought her father’s company and wants her ship in exchange for the family home. The Butterfly leads Alice back into Underland where things are in a right mess: the Mad Hatter is “madder” than usual, convinced his family is still alive. The White Queen asks Alice to visit Time to see if he can save the Hatter’s family in the past and from there…things get slightly screwy (okay things get royally screwy).

There are several trips back into time; we learn why the Red Queen has an abnormally shaped head (because apparently she wasn’t always like that); we learn why the White Queen is the rightful ruler and we also learn why the two sisters hate each other so much. At the end of it all, time is restored, the Hatter is reunited with his family and the White Queen and the Red Queen are friends again while Alice returns home and now sails on the high seas with her mother (somehow retaining the company? or the ship? It’s confusing…)

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That being said, Danny Elfman DID return to score the film, so that is one positive in a film that largely disappointed. I hope you enjoy this brief interview with the composer.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Danny Elfman, see here

See also:

Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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Alice in Wonderland (1951) takes us down the rabbit hole

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On July 26th, 1951, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland was released in theaters. The 13th Disney Animated Feature was based on Lewis Carroll’s 1865 children’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

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Alice (Kathryn Beaumont, perhaps better known as the voice of Wendy in Peter Pan (1953)), finds herself drawn into an adventure in the topsy-turvy Wonderland after following a White Rabbit down a rabbit hole and falling down into the magical place. While seeking a way out, Alice encounters a wide variety of crazy creatures, from singing flowers, a caterpillar that smokes a hookah, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare and perhaps most importantly, the semi-deranged Queen of Hearts, who has a thing for shouting “off with their heads!!”

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Alice in Wonderland failed spectacularly at the box office and unlike other Disney films, was not re-released to theaters during Walt Disney’s lifetime. At the time of release, critics (and fans of the books) did not appreciate the liberties Disney had taken with the story and felt that he was trying to “Americanize” a great piece of British literature. The film’s reputation has improved in the following decades, but (in my opinion) it still remains one of the lesser known (and somewhat under-appreciated) entries in Disney’s animated film series.

One flaw that I’ve come to recognize in the film is that it is not so much a unified story as it is a series of vignettes (short scenes) ostensibly tied together by the presence of Alice. A notable exception is “The Walrus and the Carpenter” which, being a story told by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, doesn’t feature Alice at all and really feels like it’s from another story entirely.

Alice in Wonderland “Painting the Roses Red” (1951)

Interestingly, during the production process, almost the entire film was shot live-action for reference, and the footage that survives is a fascinating look into how the earlier Disney films were put together. This was actually a common practice for the Disney studio, though unfortunately not all of the footage has survived to the present day. Some films that I know had live-action footage shot include: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Sleeping Beauty; Peter Pan (particularly for scenes involving Tinker Bell interacting with the drawer in the Darling home); Cinderella and Pinocchio.

One of my favorite pieces involves the Un-Birthday Party/The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Broadway Classixs on YouTube synched up the live-action footage with the animated result and it’s amazing to watch the voice actors at work.

Alice in Wonderland Tea Party: Live action vs. animation

What do you think of the animated Alice in Wonderland? Do you think it’s been neglected compared to other Disney films? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios