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"Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland" showcases Mary Blair's concept art

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"Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland" showcases Mary Blair's concept art

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Forget about "When Harry Met Sally." You want to talk about a truly magical movie moment? Then let's discuss when Mary met Alice.

To be specific, when Mary Blair was assigned to work on Disney's animated adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

Ever since May of 1938, when the Studio had officially acquired the movie rights to Lewis Carroll's two "Alice" -based novels, Disney artists had struggled to get a handle on this material. For a number of years, Walt tried to produce a picture which would have replicated Sir John Tenniel's distinctive illustrations for the books. But when that proved to be impractical ... Disney then turned to Blair and asked her to imagine a far more film-friendly Wonderland.

Many of the concept paintings that Mary created for this 1951 release have just been collected in a brand-new hardcover. Which is called -- appropriately enough -- "Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland" (Disney Press, September 2008).

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

As you leaf through this beautiful 64-page picture (which features noted children's author Jon Scieszka's witty take on Carroll's classic tale) it's hard not to be dazzled by Blair's amazing artwork ...

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... her vibrant use of color as well as her strong sense of composition.

Mind you, not every idea that Mary proposed for Disney's animated "Alice" actually wound up in the finished film. Take -- for example -- the concept painting below. Which shows Alice wearing a dress that's distinctly different from the one Tenniel originally designed for Carroll's heroine.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

But for the most part, where Blair dreamed up eventually became part of Disney's "Wonderland." From the look of individual characters ...

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... to the staging of comic bits of business ...

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... Even the composition of specific shots in the film ...

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... as well as the staging of certain action sequences in this movie ...

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... were clearly influenced by Mary's concept art.

A worthy successor to last year's "Walt Disney's Cinderella" ...

Copyright 2007 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... (which also showcased Blair's brilliant work), "Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland" will make a fine addition to any Disneyana fan's library.

Just make sure to leave a little space available on that book shelf. Why For? Because the third & final volume in this Mary-Blair-concept-art picture book series -- "Walt Disney's Peter Pan" -- is due to be released next fall.

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  • Last year, I bought the "Cinderella" book for my young daughter, and I am looking forward to the "Alice" installment.  What a great holiday gift!

  • I was disappointed with the color reproduction in both of these books. Neither one seems to do justice to Blair's originals.

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