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Alice in Wonderland (1915)

Alice goes with her sister to a picnic and then she falls asleep and starts dreaming about a wonderland full of talking animals and walking playing cards.

Director:

W.W. Young

Writers:

Lewis Carroll (novel), W.W. Young (adapted by)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Viola Savoy Viola Savoy ... Alice
Herbert Rice Herbert Rice ... White Rabbit
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry Marks Harry Marks ... The Dodo Bird
Louis Merkle Louis Merkle ... The Dormouse
William Tilden William Tilden ... The Mad Hatter
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Storyline

Alice goes with her sister to a picnic and then she falls asleep and starts dreaming about a wonderland full of talking animals and walking playing cards.

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Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Connections

Version of Alice (2009) See more »

User Reviews

 
(Un)Natural Book Illustrations
2 August 2020 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

This is the third and, thus far at least, last silent film adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice books that I've seen, and while Alice's adventures are the richest literature marketed to children I know, I don't think highly of these silent-picture illustrations. The 1903 and 1910 versions were significantly abridged, but this one largely transcribes the entire plot of Carroll's first book, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," and even adds to it. Perhaps the most interesting insertion is the considerable amount of foreshadowing while Alice is first awake. Otherwise, the production is mostly pedestrian--employing stage costumes in the fashion of John Tenniel's original designs from the page and generally butchering Carroll's words with the overly-abundant title cards. One notable exception, however, is the use of natural landscapes, as opposed to the stage-bound look of some other screen iterations.

The outer narrative here is all foreshadowing. Alice loiters about as a woman makes tarts on a summer day and adds pepper to boiling soup. Alice's sister, then, recommends they play a game of hearts, which they don't. Instead, they walk about, as Alice picks up a rabbit and finds her cat Dinah up on a tree, among other incidents involving animals. A title card reads, "Things we do and things we see shortly before we fall asleep are most apt to influence our dreams." You don't say.

There are at least a couple different versions of this film floating around nowadays, which makes sense as what remains of the picture would've benefited from even more editing. The lengthy shots of the White Rabbit and others leading Alice from here to there make the plot tediously easy to follow. Moreover, intertitles such as, "Come On!," when the character is already gesticulating to Alice and holding her hand to indicate that they are leading her to the next static scene. Probably the most needless example of this continuity padding are the signs pointing the way to Wonderland and other destinations. There are even insert medium shots of the White Rabbit and, then, Alice as they stand next to the "Wonderland" sign, seemingly struggling to comprehend what the marker could possibly mean. On the other hand, this does seem to be a rare edition to feature the "You Are Old, Father William" poem visually.

Besides the clutter, this "Alice in Wonderland" stands out for its scenes taking place in natural landscapes. While this helps prevent a picture that largely consists of static shot-scenes from being overly stagy, one drawback is the effect of the superimpositions against relatively clear horizons. One such multiple-exposure shot has Alice leaving her body, as she sleeps, to follow the white rabbit and another features the Cheshire Cat's grin; both are largely illegible. Considering the fact that the likes of Georges Méliès and George Albert Smith had been employing this trick in film since 1898, including with white backgrounds not long thereafter, I'm not inclined to forgive the ineffectualness of the special effects here. Despite being set in nature, there's something unnatural, too, about a silent film adaptation of a book that is remarkable for its clever wordplay and a plotting that goes to pains to be simple to follow, from a book that is celebrated for its nonsense.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 January 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alice in Wonderland See more »

Filming Locations:

Long Island, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$50,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Black and White (tinted and toned)
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