The film begins on the ship bearing Alice (Coral Browne) and Lucy from England to New York. As she and Lucy (Nicola Cowper) disembark, they are set upon by several journalists, all trying to get a story or quote from her. Clearly bewildered by all the excitement, she is befriended by an ex-reporter, Jack Dolan (Peter Gallagher), who helps her and Lucy through the legions of the press. Dolan quickly becomes her agent and finds endorsement opportunities for her. Throughout it all, a romance develops between Jack and Lucy.
But all is not well with Alice. Being so advanced in age, she needs Lucy, of whom she can be very demanding, to be her constant companion. When left alone in their hotel room, she begins to hallucinate and sees Mr. Dodgson (Ian Holm) in their room, and then, later, the Mad Hatter (voiced by Tony Haygarth) and March Hare (voiced by Ken Campbell). Joining them for their insane tea party, they berate her for being so old and forgetful. She remembers also the lazy boating party of 4 July 1862, when the young Reverend Charles Dodgson, (Lecturer in Mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford, where her father was the Dean), had attempted to entertain her and her sisters by spinning the nonsense tale that grew to be Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Via flashbacks, it is insinuated that Dodgson had an infatuation with the young Alice Liddell (Amelia Shankley). Was it an innocent admiration he had for the girl or something inappropriate? Alice is clearly troubled by her recollections of Dodgson. The parameters of her relationship with him were somewhat tortured. Dodgson was unwaveringly adoring of Alice, and while she was usually kind, she could sometimes be cruel and mocking of him, especially of his occasional stutter – as on the day of the boating party when she was on the verge of her teens and trying to impress a couple of young students (one of whom she eventually marries). Alice tries to rectify her feelings and past relationship with the author in her mind.
By the time she delivers her acceptance speech at Columbia University, she comes to terms with Dodgson and the way she treated him. In another fantasy sequence with the Mock Turtle, the viewers see them finally reconciled together in a way that can be interpreted as all-encompassing, as both mutual apology and forgiveness.
- Coral Browne as Alice Hargreaves
- Peter Gallagher as Jack Dolan
- Ian Holm as Reverend Charles L. Dodgson
- Jane Asher as Mrs. Liddell
- Nicola Cowper as Lucy
- Caris Corfman as Sally
- Amelia Shankley as Young Alice
- Fulton MacKay as the Gryphon
- Alan Bennett as the Mock Turtle
- Julie Walters as the Dormouse
- Ken Campbell as the March Hare
- Tony Haygarth as the Mad Hatter
- Frank Middlemass as the Caterpillar