Welcome to Wonderland

BPM Mag Review By Dave Mac

James Short, the Director of Welcome to Wonderland, has spent the past three years filming outdoor dance parties around Victoria (Australia) and independently producing his vision. Working in the most unpredictable and challenging environments, he has captured the motivations and aspirations of the characters that play on these stages, and that live and breathe this culture.

Welcome to Wonderland is a sixty-three minute documentary on DVD, and done in full 5.1 surround sound and includes a separate CD soundtrack in the two-disc package. Also on the DVD is a substantial 'Extra Features' section, which includes eight beautiful dance montages, DJ interviews, a feature on each of the three music composers responsible for the soundtrack and several features on the animators. James takes viewers on a journey through the familiar (to many of us) experiences of going to an outdoor trance party right from the point of embarking on the trip through to the blissful aftermath of a weekend stomping in the bush. He does this through the eyes and comments of six separate characters that we join on their weekend away. These six folk form the backbone for the story that's being told although there are many more individuals that make for interesting viewing and dialogue.

Although psy-trance DVD's in comparison to CD's are still fairly few and far between, the Japanese have been producing high quality films about this genre for four or five years now. Most, however, tend to focus specifically on an event or artist. Welcome to Wonderland differs as it's about a global scene, although portrayed in the context of the Australian experience and makes for very enjoyable viewing. My first impression ten minutes into the film was, "Now this is how I'd like to see our scene here in South Africa portrayed!"

The producers have managed to take all the collective thoughts and feelings that many of us have experienced, worldwide in fact, and shown them through very powerful dialogue (which is done solely through interviews; no voice-over commentary) and imagery. In fact the dialogue for me is the strongest part of this movie. James manages to entice his characters to share their intimate thoughts. "At all times I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible to ensure that I was really allowing everyone to tell their own stories and capturing real expression and feeling, especially when people were dancing," he explains.

Welcome to Wonderland depicts all the positive reasons we go outdoors and party to trance music. With killer imagery, loads of fantastic looking freaks (sadly missing on the SA scene these days) and meaningful dialogue this DVD comes highly recommended and should encourage even the most jaded of trance-heads to wanna stomp once more.

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