The Reagan presidency was probably the golden age of anti-drug messaging. America’s school kids were told that a brain was like an egg and drugs were like a frying pan. The First Lady told America’s school kids simply to “Just Say No.” The message was stupefyingly simple. Drugs, like Communism and taxes, are bad.
During the early 1970s, however, that anti-drug message was much more confused. Take for example Curious Alice, a visually stunning, deeply odd movie about the perils of drug abuse that makes the stuff look like a lot of fun. Created by the National Institute of Mental Health in 1971, the film shows young Alice reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in a sunny dappled meadow before nodding off. She soon finds herself plunging down the rabbit hole and in a wonderland … of drugs. The King of Hearts is hawking heroin. The Mad Hatter is tripping balls on LSD. The hookah-smoking Caterpillar is stoned out of his gourd. The Dormouse is in a barbiturate-induced stupor and the March Hare, who looks like the Trix Bunny’s ne’er-do-well brother, is a fidgeting tweaker. “You oughta have some pep pills! Uppers!” he exclaims. “Amphetamines! Speed! You feel super good.”
The movie was reportedly intended for eight year-olds. While it’s unlikely that your average third grader is going to absorb Alice’s moralizing about acid, they will almost certainly respond to the film’s trippy, Monty Pythonesque animation. The animators clearly had a blast making this movie, but their efforts didn’t exactly translate into an effective message. After the movie came out, the National Coordinating Council on Drug Education slammed the movie, calling it confusing and counterproductive.
As an adult, however, the movie is a lot of fun. So check it out above. And if you live in either Colorado or Washington, feel free to enjoy the movie in a state that it is probably best appreciated.
via Dangerous Minds
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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.
Who played Alice?
Also, her dress was surprisingly short.
Man, that was far out!
Images and how we view images have changed significantly over time, as exposure to images has changed. Remember this film was produced prior to the video games and internet. To a child of the 1970’s (e.g. myself), the disjoint presentation and cartoon overlay techniques were disorienting and vaguely disturbing, leaving my class silent and uneasy when reel ended. We were very happy to be excused for recess.
P.S. The dress she was wearing was fashionable school dress for the time. It was the age of the mini-skirt–they sold mini-skirts for girls with matching ruffled panties then. Ironically, many school dress codes forbade girls from wearing shorts or pants, but this sort of loli-dress was considered acceptable. Eventually schools started to allow girls to wear culottes — shorts that looked liked skirts –but it was a long struggle to get the codes changed.
Who is the little girl that played Curious Alice ?