A picturesque and thoughtful movie for grownups whose plot shifts effortlessly between three venues: the 1860s when Lewis Carroll introduced the Wonderland tales to young, dark-haired Alice Liddell and her sisters - the 1930s when the aged Alice Liddell Hargreaves visited the U.S. just months before her death - and the surreal story-world of Alice in Wonderland with the characters that Alice meets portrayed by wickedly designed Jim Henson puppets.
Four affecting performances stand out in my memory: Coral Browne as the starchy old Alice - Amelia Shankley as the young self centered Alice - Nicola Cowper as old Alice's timid companion who becomes the love interest to a young American reporter (portrayed by Peter Gallagher) - and, in a small role, Caris Corfman as a wistful newspaper reporter. But those are only a few of many fine British and American actors (fine - except for one brief but noticeable exception - maybe more noticeable to Americans).
My only major gripe is Ian Holm's age. Holm was in his early 50s when he portrayed Rev Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll's real name), while the real Dodgson was closer to 30 when he first told Alice the stories. Ian Holm's age and characterization exaggerate the frightful possibility of his impure interest in the young children he befriended.
On the positive side, this film took great care in evoking the respective time periods with beautiful sets, costumes and photography that compliment the deeply-felt emotional arc of old Alice revisiting her memories of Dodgson. As a result, the movie is itself an exotic journey into other times and places - with Alice, once again, as protagonist.