Alice in Wonderland (1903 film)

Alice in Wonderland is a 1903 British silent film directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow.[1] Only one copy of the original film is known to exist. The British Film Institute (BFI) partially restored the movie and its original film tinting and released it in 2010. According to BFI, the original film ran about 12 minutes; the restoration runs 9 minutes and 35 seconds.[1] At the beginning of the restoration, it states that this is the first movie adaptation of Lewis Carroll's children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[2]

Alice in Wonderland
The complete film
Directed byCecil Hepworth
Percy Stow
Produced byCecil M. Hepworth
Herman Casler (exec. producer)
Elias Koopman (exec. producer)
Harry Marvin (exec. producer)
Written byLewis Carroll (book)
Cecil M. Hepworth
Based onAlice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll
StarringMay Clark
Cecil M. Hepworth
Mrs. Cecil Hepworth
Norman Whitten
CinematographyCecil M. Hepworth
Distributed byAmerican Mutoscope and Biograph Company
Edison Manufacturing Company
Kleine Optical Company
Release date
  • 17 October 1903 (1903-10-17)
Running time
approx. 8:19 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film is memorable for its use of special effects, including Alice's shrinking in the Hall of Many Doors, and in her large size, stuck inside of White Rabbit's home, reaching for help through a window.[3] It is now available from several sources, and is included as a bonus feature on a 1996 BBC DVD. It is also included in the Vintage Cinema: Experiments in early film 1900s DVD.


Alice follows a large white rabbit down a "Rabbit-hole". She finds a tiny door. When she finds a bottle labeled "Drink me", she does, and shrinks, but not enough to pass through the door. She then eats something labeled "Eat me" and grows larger. She finds a fan which enables her to shrink enough to get into the door to a. "Garden" and try to get a dog to play with her. She enters the "White Rabbit's Tiny House", but suddenly enlarges to her normal size. In order to get out, she used the fan.

She enters in a kitchen, in which there is a cook and a woman holding a baby. She persuades the woman to give her the child and takes the infant outside after the cook starts throwing things around. The baby then turns into a pig and squirms out of her grip. The woman turned out to be a duchess. The Duchess's "Cheshire Cat" appears and disappears a couple of times to Alice and directs her to the Mad Hatter's "Mad Tea-Party". After a while, she leaves.

The Queen invites Alice to join the royal procession, a parade of marching playing cards and others, headed by the White Rabbit. When Alice unintentionally offends the Queen, the latter summons the executioner. Alice "boxes the ears", then flees when all the playing cards come for her. Then she wakes up to realize that it was all nothing but a dream.


The cast also includes a large number of child actors as playing cards.

See also


  1. "Alice in Wonderland (1903)". British Film Institute Screenonline.
  2. Mills, Ted (31 March 2016). "The First Film Adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (1903)". Open Culture. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  3. "Alice in Wonderland 150th anniversary: eight very different film versions". British Film Institute. Retrieved 4 November 2019.

Further reading

  • Film History, an introduction (3rd ed.), Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell
  • The British Film Catalogue 1895-1970: A Guide to Entertainment Films (1973), Dennis Gifford. Newton Abbot, England: David & Charles Ed.
  • Alice in Wonderland 1903 Music by Rodrigo Favela
  • Alice in Wonderland on IMDb
  • Alice in Wonderland at; the full movie can be viewed here (9 minutes, 32 seconds long). The film can also be viewed at the BFI Screenonline site, but only by subscribers; it states the duration is 9 minutes and 35 seconds.
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