Dreamchild (Gavin Millar, 1985) Coral Browne, Ian Holm

Exploring the somewhat darker and more mysterious side of the Lewis Carroll classic book, the movie follows Alice Liddell (the book's inspiration) as an old woman who is haunted by the characters she was once so amused by.

Dreamchild is the only film in which cousin Coral Browne has first billing - before Ian Holm in this case. But the spotlight is really on his character. We know where Alice Liddell Hargreaves is coming from (mock turtles and gryphons) and going to (big bucks in American advertising) but Charles Dodgson is still somewhat enigmatic, and perhaps more crucially now than he was in 1985. To what extent was he a paedophile? He attempted to destroy before he died the many photos he had taken of naked young girls, but one or two have been preserved. Holm perfectly captures the ambiguity of Dodgson’s relationship with little Alice (the well-known photo here is one he took of her as a beggar). Unfortunately, he is not given the lines to recreate the intelligence and wit of Lewis Carroll.

I thought the contributions made by Jim Henson’s puppets - if that's the word - were appalling. Maybe that was as good as anyone could do in 1985, but I think the film would have been better without them.

Garry Gillard | New: 14 March, 2017 | Now: 12 May, 2021