ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1903)


bfi_logo_transp1903

CANDLES 5

DIRECTOR: Percy Stow & Cecil Hepworth

FIRST EVER FILM VERSION OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND

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Painstakingly restored by the BFI (British Film Institute) from a severely damaged print, this is still in poor condition, but for the those interested in taking a look at a small piece of movie history, this is still quite watchable.

But there is little to recommend here besides the curiosity value. Alice is played by a rather unattractive, sorry to sound so shallow but it was distracting, young woman (May Clark), and the scenes are presented in a very unimaginatively staged manner.

Granted, this is 1903 and depending on which date you recognise as the birth of cinema, this is still only the first decade of film making and it had a long way to go. Georges Méliès had only just released his highly innovative classic, La Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) and many of his now simple camera and editing techniques and early special effects had yet to make it into the medium on the whole, but this film’s effects are poorly conceived, let alone executed in my opinion, though not one shared by the BFI apparently. This must be an acquired taste…

imagesThe most interesting and informative parts are in fact the inter-titles, which serve to explain the story so much more effectively than the live action footage itself. Granted, some of the effects are quite good, such as the superimposed Cheshire Cat in one scene, but the scene itself was pointless.

Thanks to the BFI for their hard work in preserving these curios, but all in all, besides its title and inspiration, this is an uninspired and cynical effort, failing to tell or show the story in anyway, leaving it to the the inter-titles to do the work.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh; maybe I should be more forgiving of this early work and appreciate the technical aspects of what they were trying to do and I am, but that can be said for any film or any age but my interest here is more about how entertaining this piece of entertainment is. The answer: Not very.

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