Thursday, January 6, 2011


Above Alice stills via girl on fire

These stills are from the first Alice film in 1903.  
The shakey, scratchy stills and foggy scenes make this Alice 
one of the most magical versions.  

Silent with charming scratchs and missing images.

1915 version written and directored by W.W.Young, starring 
Viola Savoy as Alice.  Smoother than the previous version and with more 
clarity, making the cartoonish costumed figures look a bit more awkard 
against the forest background and very charming.


In 1933 the first talkie version of Alice was released.  Syrupy sweet á la mode 
of the 30s, it was almost more creepy in its prim perky-ness.  The updated 
technology also gives the floating figures in the tunnel scenes an 
old black-and-white sci-fi flick feel.  

In 1949 Dallas Bower directed one of the best, psychedelic, lovely, and 
creepy versions of Alice yet.  Although filmed in the 40s its by far the 
trippiest version of all.  The lack of consistency in color are due to 
damages of the film, which may never be fully restored.  There are 
many different edits of this film floating around on youtube... I'd love to 
track down the entire film.  The opening scenes were filmed in the actual location 
Lewis Carroll entertained Alice Liddell, in the Liddell gardens. It got little attention 
and upon release was overshadowed by the French version
Alice no País das Maravilhas (1951) which soon after arrived in theatres.


The 1966 Alice, a BBC production, is the most mellow and eerily pleasant 
although Alice appears gloomy, bored, and somewhat cold. It reminds me a bit of 
Picnic at Hanging Rock due to the long haired, doe-eyed, placid young girls, quiet 
scenes with no dialogue and sparse music, and the sense of pending events that will 
occur as they go on their nature hike.  I love how British it is yet how sitar is used 
to give it that--again, much like Hanging Rock-- dreamy sense of tension and 
wonder, which was really forward since in 1966 when it was made sitar had 
just recently made its debut into Western pop music a la The Beatles.

Kate Burton recites The Jabberwocky poem in the 1983 PBS version, starring 
Richard Burton among others.  This version is less popular, and very homemade 
looking in that great PBS production way, but still arts-and-crafty costumes 
are actually very eye-catching. Although many parts of the costumes and 
set are three dimensional, they are painted on in a way that makes the sets and 
characters look more 2-D as if a drawing came to life.

Now this version of Alice is very close to my heart as it gave me and most 
children of my generation the creeps.  And it stayed with me for a long time. 
I don't think I've quite gotten over those nightmares.  Similar to the 1933 version, 
I find the vacuous perfection of this Alice very creepy, she's going to turn on you 
any minute.  With a star-studded cast from Ringo Starr to Sammy Davis, it was a 
popular 2-part made-for-TV CBS movie. I remember thinking the Jaberwocky 
scene was so vivid and terrifying.  


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