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Impressionable young Alice (Viola Savoy) dozes off after a walk through
the countryside and dreams of following a white rabbit (Herbert Rice) into
his hole, that somehow leads her to a fantasy world where she soon attends
an animal convention, where she scares all the animals (mostly mice and
birds) away with talks about her cat. Later she gets to the White Rabbit's
house, meets a caterpillar yet later, visits the duchess who tells her to
take care of her kid that turns out to be a piglet, makesw the
acquaintance of the very weird Cheshire Cat, plays croquet witht he queen
of hearts, is invited to a dance by the Mock Turtle and ultimately takesw
part in a trial against the knave of hearts who stole the queen of hearts'
tarts - but she refuses to take the trial seriously because all those
attending are nothing but a pack of cards. After this statement of hers
causes an uproar, Alice wakes up in the field she has fallen asleep an
hour ago ...
This early version of Alice in Wonderland
is definitely less than a classic, as it fails to escape its source
material's episodic structure and seems to just hop from one scene to the
next without putting them into a narrative framework. Now this may very
well work in the form of a written book, but on the screen one would hope
for more of an actual story or at least more climactic isolated episodes
rather than just very sober translation of the written texts to the
screen. Now please, before you complain, I know that this film was made 95
years ago and the means to make a proper fantasy movie were somewhat
limited - which is an excuse for many of this films shortcomings, but not
for its being boring.
By the way, the original film seems to
have featured a few more scenes (including the famous tea party with the
Mad Hatter and the March Hare), but unfortunately the movie has only
survived in a skeletal form.