Movie Review: The Alphabet Conspiracy (1959)
Synopsis: Frustrated by her English homework, Judy dreams of abolishing the alphabet with the help of the Mad Hatter and the Jabberwock. However, Dr. Linguistics changes her mind.
Review: I came across this short movie last night while waiting for my wife and daughter to get back from martial arts classes. Since I had dinner already prepped, I decided to give it a try and it ended up being surprisingly good.
I won't lie, parts of this movie are about as dated as you would expect, especially when referencing "primitive" cultures. There are also some scenes, like the one with the dancing letters, that seem a bit drug induced. However, there was also a lot to like about this film.
I think the thing that impressed me was how the movie gives a fairly sound (albeit maybe missing more modern interpretations) explanation of language, including how it started, how humans make the sounds that are interpreted as words and even how some cultures communicate without words. I especially loved the part involving babies and how they all speak the same language when born but adapt based on what they hear from their parents.
The movie also provides some interesting history lessons. The animated lesson about Wolfgang von Kempelen's 18th century "speaking" machine was intriguing enough for me to pause the movie just so I could look it up and learn more.
I wasn't a huge fan of the Mad Hatter character (Conried). He was supposed to be a villain but ultimately didn't do a whole lot more than just talk and follow instructions. He was even having Judy (Callaway) take notes, which kind of seemed like something that defeated the point of his mission to eliminate the alphabet. Of course, I'll also admit I'm probably reading a little too much into that since he was a figment of Judy's imagination, and this was a kids' movie.
Final Opinion: As I mentioned, some parts are a bit dated but, at minimum, it does a good job introducing kids to the science behind language and might still be a fun learning experience for younger children.
My Grade: B