Watch a 1915 Film Adaptation of Alice in Wonderland Enhanced in 4K, with Costumes Based on Original Illustrations by Sir John Tenniel

Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land pre­dates the inven­tion of cin­e­ma by a cou­ple of decades. Nev­er­the­less, much like the “Drink me” bot­tle and “Eat me” pre­sent­ed to its young pro­tag­o­nist, Lewis Car­rol­l’s fan­tas­ti­cal tale has called out the same mes­sage to gen­er­a­tions of film­mak­ers around the world: “Adapt me.” This cen­tu­ry, though not even a quar­ter of the way over, has already brought us full-length Alice movies (to say noth­ing of tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tions) from Europe, South Amer­i­ca, and of course the Unit­ed States. Those last include sep­a­rate adap­ta­tions of Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land and its sequel Alice Through the Look­ing Glass by no less an auteur than Tim Bur­ton.

Both of those books were also tak­en on by a writer-direc­tor named W. W. Young more than a cen­tu­ry ago, though he sim­ply com­bined por­tions of both nov­els into a sin­gle fea­ture. You can watch this silent Alice in Won­der­land from 1915 above, in a ver­sion its uploader calls “by far the high­est qual­i­ty ver­sion of this film on the inter­net,” assem­bled “pri­mar­i­ly from two prints scanned by the Library of Con­gress, along with a few oth­er sources.

Enhanced with “scene-by-scene image sta­bi­liza­tion,” it also excis­es “many title cards which were not part of the orig­i­nal film” added to sub­se­quent ver­sions, “and which slowed down the film con­sid­er­ably.”

Run­ning just under an hour, this recon­struc­tion includes scenes with such wide­ly known char­ac­ters as the Cater­pil­lar, the Cheshire Cat, the Mock Tur­tle and the Queen of Hearts. Young’s footage of such fig­ures as Twee­dledee and Twee­dle­dum and Hump­ty Dump­ty has, alas, been lost to time. Still, unusu­al­ly for a film adap­ta­tion, this ver­sion includes much of Car­rol­l’s par­o­d­ic poem “You Are Old, Father William” — more, even, than made it into Dis­ney’s beloved ani­mat­ed fea­ture of 1951. With its stiff cos­tumes (based on the orig­i­nal illus­tra­tions by Sir John Ten­niel) and Long Island back­drops, Alice in Won­der­land may not boast quite the same pro­duc­tion val­ue, but watch­ing it now, long after the silent era, one can’t help but feel trans­port­ed to anoth­er real­i­ty alto­geth­er.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The First-Ever Film Ver­sion of Lewis Carroll’s Tale Alice in Won­der­land (1903)

The Orig­i­nal Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land Man­u­script, Hand­writ­ten & Illus­trat­ed By Lewis Car­roll (1864)

Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land Read by Sir John Giel­gud

When Aldous Hux­ley Wrote a Script for Disney’s Alice in Won­der­land

Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land, Illus­trat­ed by Sal­vador Dalí in 1969, Final­ly Gets Reis­sued

Curi­ous Alice — The 1971 Anti-Drug Movie Based on Alice in Won­der­land That Made Drugs Look Like Fun

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.