Title ID 8404Collection ID1189
TitleAlice in Wonderland
CollectionEarly Films
Genre/TypeProfessionalFilm/Video companyFictionAdaptation
ThemeEarly film in the South East
KeywordsClothing Children Parades Play Fancy dress Performing Arts
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionCecil Hepworth
DirectorPercy Stow
CastMay Clark (Alice)
FormatBlack & White Silent
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Alice follows the White Rabbit and finds herself in the company of strange characters in an unfamiliar garden in this Cecil Hepworth production, directed by Percy Stow in 1903.


The first intertitle reads, "Alice dreams that she sees the White Rabbit and follows him down the Rabbit-hole, into the Hall of Many Doors." The title "Alice in Wonderland" fades as White Rabbit enters scene and Alice wakes up in a garden. She follows the rabbit into a large hole and along a narrow passageway. Alice finds herself in a room with a small door. A table appears, upon which Alice finds a key. The panel that opens is too small but a bottle with a label reading "drink me" appears. After drinking from the bottle, Alice starts to shrink (superimposition) until she is much smaller than the table. Unable to reach the key, Alice eats from a box labeled "eat me". She begins to grow to her normal size (superimposition), and takes the key from the table to unlock the door. Now large to fit through the unlocked door, Alice sits on the floor and fans her face, shrinking once again.

Intertitle reads "Alice enters the White Rabbit's tiny House, but, having suddenly resumed her normal size, she is unable to get out until she remembers the Magic Fan." Alice is seen struggling inside a room, with furniture and window far to small. Fanning herself, she slowly fades away. The intertitle reads "Alice, now very small, has gained access to the Garden where she meets a Dog and tries to make him play with her."

Intertitle reads "The Duchess's Cheshire Cat appears to Alice and directs her to the house of the Mad Hatter. The Mad Tea-Party." Alice is seen waving at a large cat sitting on a tree branch (superimposition) but the cat seems not to notice her. The cat disappears, reappearing to vanish again. At the Mad Hatter's tea party, Alice sits with the Hatter and the rabbit at the head of the table. They offer her some food and tea before ordering her away. The make [?] drink tea upside down. Alice leaves by a door, entering a kitchen . Inside is a woman holding a baby ad another by the stove. Alice picks the baby up, cradling her. She takes the baby outside and sits against a wall. The baby transforms into a squealing pig and Alice lets it run away.

Intertitle reads "The Royal Procession. The Queen invites Alice to join. Alice unintentionally offends the Queen who calls the Executioner to behead her. But Alice, growing bolder, boxes his ears and in the confusion which results she awakes." The White Rabbit leads the procession, followed by children dressed as playing cards. Alice watches by the side of the path, clapping her hands. When the procession of cards has passed, the Queen stops to talk to Alice and she joins the group. Alice is seen quarreling with the Queen. The executioner approaches Alice with his axe, readying himself to swing at the girl. Alice pushes him away as he lurches towards her. The playing cards run back along the path towards the camera. Alice is seen lying in the same spot at which she began the dream, rubbing her eyes before standing up.

Contextual information

Percy Stow was associated with Hepworth & Co. from 1901 to 1903, directing among others How to Stop a Motor Car (1902) before leaving to found Clarendon Film Company. The family dog Blair would become the first movie star as Rover in Rescued by Rover (1905) and Dog Outwits the Kidnappers (1908), both directed by Lewin Fitzhamon for Hepworth Manufacturing Company.

Intertitles break up the film into chapters. These chapters would have been sold separately, originally joining to form a film around twelve minutes long.

Related titles

Related resources


Hepworth, Cecil. Came the Dawn: Memories of a Film Pioneer n.p. London: Phoenix House

Date: 1951 Autobiography by Cecil Hepworth.

Barnes, John. The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894-1901. Five Volumes, n.p. University of Exeter Press

Date: 1996-1998 All five volumes of John Barnes’s archaeological study of early cinema charts its development between 1894 and 1901. Barnes founded the Barnes Museum of Cinematography with his brother William in the 1960s. The collection provided primary material for Barnes’s study of early cinema.

Low, Rachael. The History of the British Film 1906-1914. n.p. London: Allen and Unwin

Date: 1973 Volumes 1-4 contain material on Hepworth and his films.

Gifford, Denis. “Fitz: The Old Man of the Screen.” in Charles Barr (ed.) All Our Yesterdays

Date: 1986


BFI National Archive, British Film Institute, London

Holds copies of many Hepworth films.

Further Information on File at Screen Archive South East

BFI National Archive, copy kept on file SASE 950000.


BFI Screenonline: Cecil Hepworth

BFI resource providing biographical overview and film synopses.

BFI Screenonline: Lewin Fitzhamon

BFI resource providing biographical overview and film synopses.

BFI Screenonline: Percy Stow

BFI resource providing biographical overview and film synopses.

Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema: Cecil Hepworth

Provides biographical overview and further reading.

Hepworth Films

Website dedicated to the life and work of Cecil Hepworth, includes information on his ‘film stars’, such as Alma Taylor and Chrissie White.