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Alice in Wonderland
Album Cover Art
2010 Disney
2011 Warner
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Conducted by:
Pete Anthony

Orchestrated by:
Steve Bartek
Edgardo Simone
David Slonaker

Additional Arrangements by:
T.J. Lindgren
Deborah Lurie
Labels Icon
Walt Disney Records
(March 2nd, 2010)

Warner Brothers Records
(April 12th, 2011)
Availability Icon
The 2011 Disney album is a regular U.S. release. The first track of that product was available free for legal download for a few days after the album's debut. The 2011 Warner set is a limited edition of 2,000 copies, sold for $500 primarily through the official site of the album. Consult with the separate review of that set for more details about its availability.
Nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and a Grammy Award.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you've eagerly awaited the day when Danny Elfman would completely recapture the addictively alluring magic of his masterpieces for Tim Burton's early films.

Avoid it... if you have no interest in hearing music that is to Elfman what Avatar is to James Horner, because you'll be reminded constantly of at least half a dozen of Elfman's existing scores (albeit his strongest works).
Review Icon
WRITTEN 3/9/10, REVISED 6/10/11
Alice in Wonderland: (Danny Elfman) There have been countless adaptations of the Wonderland concept from Lewis Carroll's famed novels to the screen over time, starting with a silent film in 1903 and best remembered by Walt Disney's animated 1951 classic. You could count on eccentric director Tim Burton to rile Carroll purists by completely re-arranging the characters and their environment for his 2010 live-action/animation hybrid, however. Burton has claimed that his interpretation of the story is not a sequel or a re-imagining of the tale, but in reality it has elements of both; in his Alice in Wonderland, the young girl has grown to the age of 19 and falls into a rabbit hole while avoiding an unwanted wedding proposal, thrusting her into a version of Wonderland that itself has experienced significant changes. She learns that it is the destiny of the original Alice to return and restore order to the Wonderland kingdom, but she and the famous characters of the world aren't sure if this particular grown-up Alice is the one to fulfill the prophecy. Critics applauded Burton's typical sense for visual overload (despite shoddy 3D renderings) but were almost uniformly disappointed by the film's degeneration into standard fantasy action fare by the end. Still, like all the best Burton projects, Alice in Wonderland is a coming of age story about a social misfit, and that appeal caused the film to impressively cover its $200 million budget for Disney almost immediately upon its release (and eventually become the fifth-highest grossing movie of all time). Behind the scenes, Alice in Wonderland was an immense technical challenge for Burton, because it represented the first time he had relied upon green screen photography and effects integration almost exclusively, and the mad rush to assemble the film in post-production before its release date caused the director's frantic mindset to carry over to composer Danny Elfman as well. Having collaborated together for twenty five years, a level of trust between the men has led to extremely short spotting sessions, and Elfman was unleashed to pursue several lines of possible musical avenues for Alice in Wonderland, in part due to the fact that the film was not assembled until well after his writing began.

Elfman's efforts for Burton's early films often yielded the highlights of his entire career, his calling cards that continue to be popular two decades after their debut. Not since this era of magnificent production for Elfman has the collaboration inspired the composer to a wildly popular and superior fantasy score. Strong soundtracks have come and gone, some showing glimpses of the allure of those early classics, but with Alice in Wonderland finally comes a worthy extension of that quality of material in its entirety. The tight, cohesive flow of the soundtrack album for Alice in Wonderland is deceptive, because Elfman's score came together rather haphazardly in the end. This was a rare situation in which the composer had to write a library of "wild" music for an unfinished film so that Burton could insert generic pieces of the score into scenes edited at the last minute. Whether by fortune or sheer talent, though, its final form is a superbly developed conception of a fanciful children's score with an almost constant twinge of peril. This is pure Elfman fantasy at his best, lyrically smooth, melodically memorable, and elegantly ominous from start to finish. For some listeners, the familiarity that comes with Alice in Wonderland could possibly be a deterrent. It is to Elfman what Avatar is to James Horner, but without the potentially obnoxious, outright wholesale regurgitation of lengthy passages from existing themes. Both are phenomenal summaries of each composer's trademarks in their respective genres, but both are consequently quite derivative for the learned ears of collectors with significant collections of their works. Given how long most Elfman enthusiasts have waited to hear the composer crank out another truly classic fantasy score, however, the many connections between Alice in Wonderland and his previous scores are not only excused, but welcomed. Everything simply clicks in this score... its ambience, its minor-key constructs, its poignant themes, its instrumental applications, and its choral coloration. It's easy to get hung up on the main theme, but what makes that idea and everything else in the score function so well is Elfman's ability to stretch the soundscape out to the far reaches of the treble and bass regions while de-emphasizing, whether intentionally or not, the middle ranges.

At opposite ends of the spectrum in Alice in Wonderland are cooing performances from a boy's choir, dreamy violins, and an array of tingling percussion to address the innocence of the tale's origins in the treble while extremely aggressive timpani, low brass, and bass string performers chop and blast away with enough significant force to convey the gravity of the situation in Wonderland. A generous mixing emphasis on these simultaneous highs and lows creates an environment of both curiosity and dread, sustained best by Elfman in the main theme's statements. The ensemble consists of the expected orchestral elements, a Beetlejuice-like organ of religious tone, and occasional electronic enhancements in the bass. Stealing the show, however, are the boys and women's vocals (with occasional soloist), alternating between and sometimes overlapping wordless enchantment and Elfman's own last-minute lyrics. All of these elements perform in monumental harmony for much of the score, with only a few brief moments of dissonance disturbing an otherwise purely magical fairy tale score. Elfman's best scores have always contained extremely memorable themes, however, and that is a dominant factor in Alice in Wonderland's success. The composer actually wrote three themes for the title character while opting not to address any of the supporting characters with substantially recurring ideas of their own, a route similar to Sleepy Hollow in many ways. The emphasis of the story is on Alice's maturation, and thus Elfman concentrates on evolving those three melodies to reflect different points in her life. The two supporting themes are best heard at the start and end of the film, representing the character's past and future outside of Wonderland. The "Little Alice" theme, summarized in the album track of that name, is a lovely woodwind, xylophone, and string theme of innocence that shares a conclusion of progressions with the primary theme of Black Beauty. It serves as a reminder of the character's previous excursion and a general sense of sentimentality, reprised most completely in "Bayard and the White Queen," "Only a Dream," and "Alice Returns." Both of the latter tracks also reprise Elfman's "Proposal Theme," following Alice from her unwanted marriage proposal at the start to her counteroffer at the end of the picture.

While initially taking on the score's only proper, Victorian-like demeanor to mirror the setting of the story (despite Elfman's assertions that he did not address them) in "Proposal," the "Proposal Theme" eventually unfolds to match the fluid, almost melancholy tone of the "Little Alice" theme. The progressions of the "Proposal" theme are an intriguing cross between Howard Shore's material for the Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (the opening three notes of one of the phrases on woodwinds) and Jerry Goldsmith's character theme from Rudy in the flute performances of similar figures (best heard at about a minute into "Alice Returns"). Elfman sometimes extends the applications of these themes outside of their obvious character references to address some of those that Alice meets for a second time in this film, including a tender and whimsical performance of the "Little Alice" theme in "Bayard and the White Queen" and "The White Queen." Although the score for Alice in Wonderland as a whole will likely be remembered for its flashy title theme, the innocent heart of its personality exists in these two secondary themes, and their occasional usage to break apart the louder action material (and more frequent reminders of the title theme) help balance the presentation on album. Fortunately, for those overwhelmed by the title theme, the album arrangement offers the secondary themes in the second and third tracks for convenient identification. Some less cohesive supporting ideas do follow, from the creepy, deep woodwind and string motif in "Alice and Bayard's Journey," "Hatter Recital," and "Saving the Hatter" to the understandably familiar, whining strings from Batman Returns in "The Cheshire Cat." There is no doubt that the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, despite Elfman's efforts to round out Alice's musical representation with the two secondary themes, is dominated by what he refers to as her "Hero Theme." Eventually labeled as "Alice's Theme," this idea is among the composer's most impressive career achievements, and one that almost didn't take the vocalized form that eventually made it famous. Elfman had originally intended for this orchestral theme to accompany Alice from roughly the mid-point of the picture and build momentum as she approaches her adventurous showdown.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.18 Stars
***** 1,549 5 Stars
**** 647 4 Stars
*** 373 3 Stars
** 170 2 Stars
* 103 1 Stars
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FVSR Reviews Alice In Wonderland
Brendan Cochran - June 3, 2016, at 11:14 a.m.
1 comment  (977 views)
Not bad
Richard Kleiner - July 15, 2011, at 11:08 a.m.
1 comment  (1948 views)
One of Elfman's best... and his worst
Doppity - January 26, 2011, at 5:09 p.m.
1 comment  (2878 views)
Boy's Choir
Jackie - June 24, 2010, at 9:08 a.m.
1 comment  (2280 views)
Philip Dunn - June 13, 2010, at 1:05 a.m.
1 comment  (2348 views)
read very important   Expand >>
MANHORE - March 17, 2010, at 11:29 a.m.
2 comments  (4256 views)
Newest: March 17, 2010, at 11:59 a.m. by
Edmund Meinerts

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2010 Disney Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 50:01
• 1. Alice's Theme (5:07)
• 2. Little Alice (1:34)
• 3. Proposal/Down the Hole (2:58)
• 4. Doors (1:52)
• 5. Drink Me (2:48)
• 6. Into the Garden (0:50)
• 7. Alice Reprise #1 (0:27)
• 8. Bandersnatched (2:42)
• 9. Finding Absolem (2:42)
• 10. Alice Reprise #2 (0:39)
• 11. The Cheshire Cat (2:07)
• 12. Alice and Bayard's Journey (4:04)
• 13. Alice Reprise #3 (0:24)
• 14. Alice Escapes (1:07)
• 15. The White Queen (0:37)
• 16. Only a Dream (1:26)
• 17. The Dungeon (2:19)
• 18. Alice Decides (3:15)
• 19. Alice Reprise #4 (1:02)
• 20. Going to Battle (2:42)
• 21. The Final Confrontation (1:41)
• 22. Blood of the Jabberwocky (2:37)
• 23. Alice Returns (3:15)
• 24. Alice Reprise #5 (2:56)
2011 Warner Set Tracks   ▼Total Time: 83:45

Notes Icon
The insert of the 2010 Disney album includes lyrics to the main theme, but no extra information about the score or film. The 2011 Warner set features some notes from Elfman about his choices of music for inclusion on the product.
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