Alice dozes in a garden, awakened by a dithering white rabbit in waistcoat with pocket watch. She follows him down a hole and finds herself in a hall of many doors. A key opens a small door...
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J. Searle Dawley
Alice and her big sister are sitting on the side of a hill overlooking the lake, the big sister busy with her book. Before long we see the little girls eyes grow heavy and she finally ... See full synopsis »
Alice dozes in a garden, awakened by a dithering white rabbit in waistcoat with pocket watch. She follows him down a hole and finds herself in a hall of many doors. A key opens a small door: eventually, she's through into a garden where a dog awaits. Later, in the rabbit's home, her size is again a problem. She tries to help a nanny with a howling baby, then a Cheshire cat directs her to a tea party where the Mad Hatter and March Hare dunk a dormouse. Expelled from the party, Alice happens on a royal processional: all the cards in the deck precede the Queen of Hearts, who welcomes then turns on Alice and calls on the royal executioner. Alice must run for her life.Written by
This 1903 film by Cecil M. Hepworth is said to be THE first adaptation of the classic story "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. Running at a little over 8 minutes, the film is laughably poor when looked at today because of its primitiveness. However, such a comparison is not allowed because of its age. You cannot criticize this movie for having no computer graphics because there were none by 1903. Instead, superimposing and dissolves were done in a much harder way (some as overlaying different filmstrips) and took a great deal of work, so the special effects used in "Alice in Wonderland" are actually very good for the time.
The story is not entirely told in this short adaptation. Instead, Hepworth presents some of the highlights of the book--the shrinking and growing to get through the door, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, the Queen of Hearts. Because it is so old, it is understandable he didn't tell the whole thing--full-length feature movies were still in the future. Unfortunately, even if modern audiences could still find interest in this, any chance of that would be ruined by film deterioration. Not a few specks and scratches, actual, crumbling deterioration. You can see what is going on for the most part, but the truth is, modern audiences just won't find much value is any of it and film buffs who are used to this sort of thing will get much more out of this beat-up copy.
That said, for me it does have some interesting things to note. At the beginning of the film, they superimposed the short's title on the bush by which Alice sits before she falls asleep. This is something I don't think I've seen before from the early silent era and looks more up-to-date then a title card (although it was still there when the White Rabbit came along, so when he passed his head in front of it you could see his head right through the type). Also, several title cards are included as well which look authentic, not modern cards added to help with the story. This would make it one of the first movies to use title cards and thus very much ahead of its time.
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