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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Life, what is it but a dream?...', Lewis Carroll - A lovely production of Sarah Sutton playing Alice in Wonderland
"Happy Birthday Sarah!"

I had this for my birthday back in May this year, as I'm a huge fan of Sarah Sutton who plays Alice in this lovely production of `Alice Through The Looking Glass'. Sarah is well known nowadays for playing Nyssa of Traken in `Doctor Who' with Peter Davison. Back then in December 1973, she was an unknown on her way to becoming somebody...
Published 12 months ago by Tim Bradley

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly disappointing!
‘Alice through the looking glass (and what she found there)’ is the second book that Lewis Carroll wrote for Alice Liddell so as to deliver messages hidden in plain sight in a fabulously delightful way – this time lessons on BEHAVIOUR and what to watch out for as Alice treads the chessboard of life in a mirrored world filled with good and evil –...
Published 7 months ago by W. Swales

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Life, what is it but a dream?...', Lewis Carroll - A lovely production of Sarah Sutton playing Alice in Wonderland, 12 Dec 2013
This review is from: Alice Through the Looking Glass [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Happy Birthday Sarah!"

I had this for my birthday back in May this year, as I'm a huge fan of Sarah Sutton who plays Alice in this lovely production of `Alice Through The Looking Glass'. Sarah is well known nowadays for playing Nyssa of Traken in `Doctor Who' with Peter Davison. Back then in December 1973, she was an unknown on her way to becoming somebody. Here she's a little girl playing a wonderful character from a timeless classic by Lewis Carroll, and it was very interesting production to watch I must say.

I'm not so familiar with the story of `Alice Through The Looking Glass' as I am with `Alice In Wonderland', but it was certainly an enjoyable and interesting experience watching this version as it was so refreshing and unlike any of the other versions I'd seen before. I remember the poem `Jabberwocky' that was read as I studied it when doing English at sixth-form college. I hadn't read it in a long time but I was aware of what it was from reading it so that brought back memories for me.

I saw this a few times before meeting up with Sarah at a Who convention in Swansea this year to talk about this and asked her to sign the DVD cover. Sarah was delighted for me to show the DVD cover to her as she showed it off to everyone else there at the Big Finish stall for the convention. She was unaware of the DVD's existence released in March until I mentioned it to her recently. It's rare for Sarah to have an opportunity to discuss in detail about some of her other works like `Winnie the Pooh', `The Moon Stallion' and `Alice Through The Looking Glass' since she's more well known for playing Nyssa in `Doctor Who'. I've managed to see and hear plenty of her works including some audio productions like 'The Jarillion Mercy' that's completely un-Who related. During that convention in Swansea, Sarah and I had a lengthy chat about her work on `Alice' which I'm really happy about when that happened.

I'm afraid you can only buy this DVD of `Alice' from North America as they don't sell it in the UK - why I've no idea. To me that's wrong as it should be sold in the UK since it's from the BBC. I felt the same way about 'The Moon Stallion' as you can only buy that in Germany. Sarah doesn't understand why `Alice' or `Moon Stallion' isn't sold in the UK either.

Another criticism about the DVD is the back of the cover. If you look on the credits on the back of the cover Sarah Sutton's name's not mentioned there at all. Why?! Why isn't Sarah Sutton credited on this DVD. I mean Brenda Bruce and the rest of the cast are fine but Sarah's completely out of the picture. It's strange really since Sarah is essentially the star of the show. It is Sarah as a little girl on the cover, trust me. I know because I recognised her from the cover when I saw it. I mentioned this detail to Sarah and she couldn't believe it either. It's most extraordinary.

Sarah pointed out to me also that on the DVD cover the Americans got it wrong as she was annoyed to see cards sprawled out on the cover beside her image as Alice, since in the actual production there were no playing cards to be seen throughout. This is something that Americans do according Sarah as they keep confusing both `Alice' stories by Lewis Carroll as a single thing. There are so many productions of Alice that have been made since so many want to re-do the thing over and over again. I have seen many versions including shamefully seeing the Disney version all those years ago as a kid; one with Michael Crawford as the White Rabbit; even one where Whoopi Goldberg played the Cheshire Cat. There's also the latest version with Johnny Depp by Tim Burton, but I haven't seen that yet.

I also like to point out that they got Sarah's dress as Alice wrong since on the cover it's blue (and `blue' is my favourite colour), but in the actual production it was yellow. Sarah noticed this and said that the reason why her dress was yellow was because she couldn't wear anything blue due to the Colour Separation Overlay (CSO) scheme they used in the story, but more on that later.

Of course all these criticisms are implying I didn't enjoy the DVD whereas in fact I did and it means something really special to Sarah since she saw this when it came out on its transmission on the 25th December 1973 over Christmas. Sarah played this part when she was either 12 or 13 years old, according to her. She might have been 11. But who knows? I hope it was 11 when she did it.

It was shown as a Christmas TV special for a duration of 70 minutes like a TV film/movie. It's not a multi-part story that you can get with `The Moon Stallion', it's all a single feature. And it does feel like a proper Christmas special to be watched on that day.

Sarah is absolutely delightful as a little girl in this story. It's so strange to see her at that age since I've watched her as Nyssa in `Doctor Who' and also seen her recently at conventions. Her voice is so high pitched and she looks so sweet and innocent. Sarah and I chatted about how small she was, and she was saying how poochy and chubby she looked but I thought she was very lovely - so sweet and cute she was as Alice.

Sarah was delighted me chatting to her about this during the convention in Swansea that she showed me some of her photos as a little girl on her iPad when she was making `Alice' and when she was doing `Winnie the Pooh'. She showed me her first publicity shots when was nine years old and when she was dressed up as Baby Roo with that headdress on her head. Again she thought she looked so poochy, whereas again I thought she looked lovely. I felt really special during those moments when Sarah showed photos of herself as a little girl on her iPad. It was a pleasure and honour.

This production of `Alice' of course is unique as I mentioned before as it uses the CSO scheme for most of the story in presenting the background settings of the places Alice goes to such as the forest, the village, the castle, etc. This means that no sets were built for this story as the actors had to use their imagination by responding to nothing but a blue screen. The sets were actually models/drawings that were interposed in the background when actors were acting against the blue screen. This is done where two cameras do two shots each - one taking images of the actors against blue and the other taking images of the background sets - and interpose them together to complete the effect. It's very primitive but it's what they did back in the day when they had no or little CGI to contend with. Barry Letts has used this technique many times when he was producing `Doctor Who' in the 70s and it was prominently used for a Tom Baker Doctor Who story called `Underworld' after `Alice' was made. It's also been used in many classical dramas like `A Christmas Carol' with Michael Horden once.

I like to talk about the guest stars that worked alongside Sarah in this production of Alice to which she has fond memories of working. There's Brenda Bruce who plays the White Queen (who I remember watching in the first series of `Jeeves and Wooster' playing Aunt Dalia). I really like Brenda's sweet portrayal of the White Queen who seems so bewildered and lightly spoken when she's having scenes with Alice. There's also Judy Parfitt playing the Red Queen, and she's really fiery and remarkable in her performance. She would appear in `Little Dorrit' many years later which I've seen. There's also Geoffrey Balydon who plays the White Knight, who for me appeared in `Doctor Who' with Tom Baker in `The Creature From The Pit'. Here Geoffrey's really funny to watch and I enjoyed it when he kept falling off his horse a lot and Alice was quite annoyed at that. And of course there's Freddie Jones who plays Humpty Dumpty in this. I really love his scenes with Alice when she mistakes his cravat for a belt or something like that and when he explains the poem `Jabberwocky' to her and telling her a poem of his before ending it abruptly on an unsatisfactory note. It was funny when Alice walked away and Humpty fell down as he should at the end with all the king's men coming to put him back together again. The CSOs effects interposing with Freddie's face as Humpty was truly remarkable for its time if you know what I mean.

I really have enjoyed this version of `Alice' so much as it's so refreshing to see Sarah in something else when she was younger. It's a very interesting production of 'Alice' using CSO. I've now seen Sarah in `Alice Through The Looking' and `The Moon Stallion' which I'm thoroughly delighted about, and I hope to watch her in some of the other things she's been in that I've yet to discover. This should definitely be worth watching over Christmas during a relaxed afternoon perhaps when it's raining or snowing.

Thanks must go to James MacTaggart for directing this TV film and for casting Sarah to play 'Alice Through The Looking Glass'!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly disappointing!, 24 May 2014
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This review is from: Alice Through the Looking Glass [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
‘Alice through the looking glass (and what she found there)’ is the second book that Lewis Carroll wrote for Alice Liddell so as to deliver messages hidden in plain sight in a fabulously delightful way – this time lessons on BEHAVIOUR and what to watch out for as Alice treads the chessboard of life in a mirrored world filled with good and evil – and how to spot danger and overcome it.

The adventure starts on a cold winters day, and as the snow falls outside, a bored Alice climbs through a looking glass (mirror), where she finds herself in a surreal radula space that is ‘Wonderland’ - where Alice discovers EVERYTHING is ‘back to front’ on the other side of the mirror, and it is now SUMMER and not winter.

Every chapter in ‘Alice through the looking glass (and what she found there)’ brings forth messages of life – such as Tweedledum and Tweedledee going into battle over a resource (a football rattle) that isn’t any use to EITHER of them. In the BOOK you will discover many many wonderful gems all gently tucked away awaiting the observant eye. One such is the poem ‘A boat beneath a sunny sky’. When the first letter of each line of prose is read going DOWN each line of the poem, a very special message is revealed.

Not many versions of Lewis Carroll’s classic masterwork ‘Alice through the looking glass (and what she found there)’ have transcribed to film very well and THIS film is a case in point.

Although the dialogue is accurate and Sarah Sutton beautifully portrays Alice’s innocence and wonderment as Alice learns each life’s lesson and gains confidence in herself, facing and conquering her inner fears on her journey across the chessboard of life - I found THIS adaptation a little too ‘clinical’ – bordering on boredom.

Maybe we have been spoiled by being blessed with actors such as Miranda Richardson; Helen Mirren; Richard Burton; John Hurt; Ian Holme; and Anthony Hopkins, because with the exception of ‘Humpty Dumpty’, the actors portraying the characters are HAMMY and seriously under-deliver – merely ‘reading the words’ and not emphasising what the ALLEGORIES in the story are all about, and so they seriously disappoint. And as for the two actors playing the Tweedles (to teach Alice to be logical) – they are ABYSMAL!

The recitation of the classic poems ‘The Walrus and the carpenter’ (where Alice sees the walrus and the carpenter deceive the oysters; and the walrus further deceive the carpenter – to teach children to be on their guard for HIDDEN AGENDAS and DECEIT), and ‘Haddocks eyes’ (where Alice learns that if you ask stupid or rude questions then expect a stupid or rude answer, and if you have lapses of concentration then you will suffer the consequences) - all lack EMPHASIS - which means that for a child, not all of the lessons are immediately obvious and require explanation during a re-watch (as the Gryphon reminds us - explanations take such a dreadful time).

What Alice FINDS when she goes through the looking glass is a BOOK, and in the book is a poem - ‘The Jabberwocky’.

Aside from the wonderful sounds captured in the words of the poem when the poem is recited out loud (which is essential to maximise the pleasure of the piece), there are many Anglo Saxon words within the poem that Alice does not understand and so she cannot decipher its valuable meaning – words such as toves, borogroves, mome raths, tulgey, burbled, frabjous, and (the biggy) jabberwocky - which prompts Alice to ask Humpty Dumpty what the words mean – only to discover that Humpty Dumpty is a pompous idiot who informs Alice that words mean exactly what HE says they mean – neither more nor less – to teach Alice to speak succinctly and correctly - and to CORRECTLY use words that have meanings that ‘mean what they say’ - now there’s a good knock-down argument for you!

Well as YOU are now curious about what all of the words mean in ‘The Jabberwocky’ - so that you too can make sense of the classic poem - I feel that it is only fair that I provide you with the words and their meanings further down, in the order in which they appear in the poem should you choose to satisfy your curiosity in such matters, however, what I wish you to know is just what a sad adaptation of Carroll’s masterwork this film is – there isn’t anything that stands out.

Word without emphasis is like soil without seed. This version brings you food, but not appetite, and acquaintances, but not friends.

So – as you appear to have an insatiable curiosity, I suspect that you are now wondering what film version you AUGHT to purchase.

Let me satisfy your curiosity for you.

In my opinion, the BEST film adaptations of Carroll’s masterworks are as follows:

ALICE IN WONDERLAND starring TINA MAJORINO as Alice – with a fabulous ‘all-star’ cast of characters; which include: Miranda Richardson, Gene Wider, and Ben Kingsley (available on Amazon).

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS starring KATE BECKINSALE as Alice – with a wonderful stellar cast; which include: Ian Holm and Geoffrey Palmer. One scene that stands out for me is when The White Knight (beautifully played by Ian Holme) recites ‘Haddocks Eyes’ (or should that be ‘A-sitting on a gate’?). Ian Holme delivers the beautiful poem with such fabulous pathos that we see Kate Beckinsale genuinely riveted to his every word as he recites it. A real gem - also available through Amazon.

Be warned! Once you watch THESE films you will become curiouser and curiouser as to what is taking place – and you will watch them over and over again.

There aren’t any better film versions of these wonderful stories – stories filled with all of the many lessons of life - lessons we wish we could have learnt when we were young.

Well now you and your children CAN! And some!

Should you be motivated to purchase the masterwork in BOOK form then my recommendation is the magnificent version ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass’ published by THE COLLECTORS COLOUR LIBRARY (ISBN 978 1 907360 36 7). Available from Amazon, this beautiful publication is the perfect size to fit into a jacket pocket or handbag and all of Tenniel’s drawings are reproduced in full colour. 'The walrus and the carpenter' is on page 190;‘Haddocks Eyes’ is on page 254, and ‘A boat beneath a sunny sky’ is on page 282.

Well dear reader, to satisfy your insatiable curiosity, as I promised, here are the meanings of the Anglo Saxon words in ‘The Jabberwocky’ – in the order they appear so that you may be able to read, enjoy, and digest the MEANING of the classic poem – and lose all track of time. Oh hum.

Brillig – Soup-boiling time and the time for tea and cucumber sandwiches. Farmers used to work until it reached ‘brillig’ (almost evening) and was the time a farmer’s wife would begin preparing her husbands’ supper (soup-meal). Brillig varies throughout the course of the year. On the day the picnic took place when Lewis Carroll first recited ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to Alice Liddell, brillig was around four-o-clock in the afternoon – tea anyone?

Slithy – A LOGISM meaning sly, slimy, and slithery.

Toves – feral, often delinquent children who shun any attempt to educate them. They were noted for ‘misleading’ well brought up children by conning them and steering them into danger, and so seen as ‘bad company’ to be avoided at all costs.

Gyre – to spin round and round like a gyroscope with your arms spread out. While the urge to ‘skip’ is ingrained within the DNA of young girls, and to ‘hop’ on one leg is ingrained within the DNA of young boys, gyring was seen as a form of lunacy in children who did this.

Gimble – to screw into something to make a hole. The reference was that if barmy children spun around long enough they would screw themselves into the floor and remain there. The allegory is that they DO screw themselves into the floor by living in hovels and having lots of children. They are also shallow, insular, and BOREing.

Wabe (way be) - The piece of ground in the shadow cast by a hill or a sundial – as opposed to the shadow cast by the gnomon on the sundial – which indicates the time.

The sun at brillig on a clear summer’s day casts long evening shadows and the wabe would seem to stretch into the horizon. Carroll was saying that this ‘shady, shadowy world’ full of people who are not good for you is everywhere – and that the shadow can creep upon you at ANY time of the day.

Mimsy – a logism comprised of miserable and flimsy. Carroll is referring to the shallow flimsy lives led by toves; a life that has is unfulfilling, has no purpose, kills the inner spirit, brings very little – if any – joy, and generally leads to a life of misery.

Borogove – half-starved creatures (gypsies, beggars, and tramps) that are parasites on society. Carroll also calls them ‘mop-heads’ – later realised by Jim Henson as ‘Muppets’ (mop-head) – creating a frog, a pig, a turkey, and a whole array of dim-wits – even the drummer is called ‘animal’.

Mome raths – homeless rats that have never been shown a good way forward and so flounder in the sewers of life, feeding off crumbs cast from the table.

Outgrabe – to come out and grab you – to catch one unawares.

Jabberwock – the BIGGY! The jabberwock is a DEMONIC TALKING SPRITE that resides IN YOUR HEAD. Jabber is to talk rubbish, and wock is the Anglo-Saxon word for terror. The jabberwock enters one’s head through being the UNWILLING VICTIM of EVIL that has taken place EXTERNALLY (such as being raped). The Jabberwock sprite ENSNARES ALL other spirits that reside in the human psyche and unless this demon is FACED and DESTROYED then any chance of that person achieving SELF-ACTUALISATION is virtually ZERO. The reason for this is because the Jabberwocky INSTRUCTS the possessor to do EVIL deeds.

People who are possessed with a Jabberwock are usually very shy and are TERRIFIED and will SCREAM OUT with terror. This is because the demon TALKS (jabbers) to the person and confuses them. The way forward with people who are afflicted with a Jabberwock is for them to seek out someone who will be their friend, mentor, and GUIDE. Very often, such a mentor will turn up out of the blue. There are several spiritual reasons for this: a) the person is suffering deep anguish and the call has been heard; b) the person is mentally, emotionally, and SPIRITUALLY ready to face the battle and free their spirit - as in Alice’s case; c) as awareness and realisation kicks in, the Jabberwock is at its WEAKEST – and will REALLY kick off; and d) the time to face the demon is right.

Jubjub bird – a desperate being that lives in fear of its own sounds. The jub-jub is a reference to the jub-jub sound a shire horses hooves make when it walks in a field – and then it startles itself when it walks on stony ground.

Shun – It means ‘avoid at all costs’, ‘push away’; reject; and ‘get rid of’'.

Frumious – Furious and fuming with rage. Caused by FRUSTRATION at not been able to deal with the internal turmoil that is taking place.

Bandersnatch – a vicious creature that can move very quickly, such as the terrier dog Alice encounters when she escapes from the rabbit’s house (to rabbit is to nag someone into doing the nags bidding – which is why Alice feels the walls coming in on her when the rabbit incessantly nags her to do his bidding). Sprites are ‘quick-witted’ and the ‘snatch’ comes out as offensive or sarcastic remarks that aren’t from the TRUE person – but put into their minds by the sprite. The modern term is Turrets Syndrome.

Vorpal – a weapon that ‘speaks truth’ – the sword Excalibur was a vorpal weapon. It is a logism composed of the words verbal and gospel (i.e. speak truth).

Manxome foe – manly and large enemy – a reference to men from The Isle of Man. Carroll was showing Alice that the Jabberwocky is only PERCEIVED as being large and strong to Alice – and that she has the fortitude WITHIN HER (the crux of the poem) to overcome her demons.

The strong words ‘drink me’ and ‘eat me’ in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ are to teach Alice that she must AVOID temptation – which is why Alice’s greed and puffed up conceit prevents her from being small (humble) enough to enter the beautiful garden, just as the pool of tears - don’t wallow in your own self-pity - will wash you away!

Tumtum tree – the metaphorical tree in your tummy that makes you grow physically large.

Uffish – a logism derived from a rough, gruff huff expressed as a very angry and very frustrated loud wheeze (huh!!) when someone is in a ‘huff’.

Whiffling – running through life without any sense of direction or purpose – running scared.

Tulgey – thick, ugly, and creepy. Alice must FACE the woods and not be afraid of the trees (other people) around her so that she can have the courage and FOCUS to face her FOES and DEFEAT them.

Burbled – a logism of babbling and burping - talking rubbish and making noises that make another feel queasy.

Snicker-snack – a logism of snigger (scornfull laugh), nick (like cutting yourself on paper) and snack (a sharp stinging bite such as you get from a terrier dog).

Galumphing – a logism of gallop and triumph - galloping around in triumph.

Beamish – someone who is not YET beaming with happiness – but has the ABILITY to beam – and will soon be doing so. The ‘boy’ reference is suggesting that Alice needs to seek out a LADISH spirit to conquer her shyness.

Frabjous – a logism of fair, fabulous and joyous – what the real Alice eventually becomes!

Callooh! Callay! – Anglo-Saxon for ‘hip-hip hurrah’.

Chortle – a ‘chicken laugh’ that sounds like the person laughing is ‘laying an egg’, (which some women do) concluded with a loud snort at the end – which is funny to listen to – and is used to make a child laugh so as to lighten the poem.

Ready for the poem? Its on page 160 of The Collectors Colour Library edition of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass’ (ISBN 978 1 907360 36 7).
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