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 1865 children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[2] It was filmed mostly at Port Meadow in Oxford.

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 the White Rabbit's home and 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.


May Clark as Alice (left) and Norman Whitten (right) as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland’’

Alice follows a large white rabbit down a rabbit hole. She finds a tiny door but cannot fit through it. When she finds a bottle labelled "Drink me" she does so and shrinks, but not enough to pass through the door. She then eats a cake labelled "Eat me" and grows larger. She finds a fan which enables her to shrink enough to get through the door to the Beautiful Garden, where she tries 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 uses the fan.

She enters 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. The baby then turns into a pig and squirms out of her grip. The woman turns 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 executioner's ears, then flees when all the playing cards come for her. She wakes up to realise that it was all a dream.


Screenshot from Alice in Wonderland featuring May Clark as Alice
Actors Characters
May Clark Alice
Cecil M. Hepworth Frog
Geoffrey Faithfull Playing Card
Stanley Faithfull Playing Card
Mrs. Margaret Hepworth White Rabbit / Queen of Hearts
Norman Whitten Mad Hatter / Fish

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "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 readingEdit

  • 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

External linksEdit

  • 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.