Image Credit: CC
As a way of commemorating the opening of Tim Burton's live action and animation film, Alice in Wonderland, the British Film Institute has released the original version of Alice in Wonderland on film. The first film, made in 1903, is only around nine minutes long, but it is amazing that the film is in as good quality as it is, considering the film is nearly 110 years old and made from cellouid, which often deteroriates.
The star of the first Alice film was May Clark, a young British film actress who made only a handful of films during the Silent Era. The film was directed by Cecil Hepworth, one of the first British directors and considering a Founding Father of the industry in Britain. The film is fairly accurate and goes along quite well with Lewis Carroll's novel, which should be expected since the film was made only 37 years after the book's intial publishing. In fact, the five scene film was made only five years after Carroll's death.
One of the goals of director Hepworth was to keep the film as accurate as possible. The images on the screen are designed exactly like the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. Being that studios were basically self-run, Hepworth and his staff made all of the costumes, used scenery around the studio, and many of the actors were members of Hepworth's staff. May Clark oftened worked as a secretary at the studio when she wasn't acting.
Image Credit: CC
The original film was twelve minutes long and, at that time, the longest film that had ever been made in England. Then, the film was shown in sequences so audiences could buy tickets and see only one scene of the film as opposed to sitting through all five, if they wanted.
Ironically, the only majorly successful actor to come out of the film was Blair, Hepworth's dog. While Hepworth made films into the 1920s, much of his money was lost as he refused to be more innovative with his filmmaking. Blair the dog, however, stole hearts across the country as the star of the 1905 film, Rescued by Rover, and became one of the first non-human celebrities created by the film industry.
For your viewing plesaure, below the Alice in Wonderland film released by the BFI. For more of the great films the BFI has in their catalogue, be sure to check out their YouTube account here.