Alice in Wonderland (1903)

Alice in Wonderland is a 1903 silent film directed by Cecil Hepworth and starring May Clark in this more twisted version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Parts of the movie are lost; there is only one known copy of this film remaining so the British Film Institute are unable to restore the missing parts.
Alice in Wonderland was made just five years after Dodgson's death. Barely nine minutes long, this movie necessarily shows only a few fragments of the novel. Hepworth was insistent that the images stay faithful to the drawings of Sir John Tenniel, the original illustrator of Lewis Carroll's story, so it's strange that the central character looks nothing at all like Tenniel's Alice.

Hepworth has been a vitally important figure in Britain's early cinema. Alice in Wonderland was the longest film yet produced in Britain, originally running about 12 minutes.
The film was made on the small wooden stage in the garden of the villa housing Hepworth's company, with exteriors shot in the lavish gardens of Mount Felix. There were no professional actors at the studio, so all of the staff pitched in and played parts.
Some of the special effects are achieved through simple jump cuts, much less flamboyant than what Georges Melies was doing in France at this time. Like in Melies' film, in this film, too, there are linking shots through dissolves. The film required an unusual amount of planning for its day. Alice in Wonderland was an extremely ambitious undertaking for its time and it achieves nearly all of what it set out to accomplish.

No comments: