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УДК 791.4 + 008
ББК 85.373(3) + 71.04
DOI: 10.30628/1994-9529-2021-17.1-75-98

EKATERINA V. SALNIKOVA
State Institute for Art Studies,
Moscow, Russia
Researcher ID: AAS-2122-2020
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8386-9251
e-mail: k-saln@mail.ru

THE FIRST SCREENING OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1903)

Abstract. The article is dedicated to the British silent film Alice in Wonderland by Percy Stow and Cecil Hepworth, which was found and restored in 2010. The 12-minute film was unusually long for early cinema. Almost all of the survived credits annotate several short scenes at once, showing their interconnection or, conversely, apartness from each other. This suggests that some scenes were sold not separately, but as a series of scenes united by a credit. Structurally, each fragment of the film, consisting of 2–3 scenes, is similar to one episode of series. Therefore, the origin of the principles of seriality in cinema can be associated with film adaptations of fairy-tale stories. The concept of space demonstrates the inner duality of the Wonderland. The private part of it looks like an English landscape garden, while the space of the Queen and her entourage is designed as a classicist regular park. In his adaptation (2010) of Carroll’s fairy-tale, Tim Burton will further unfold the theme of duality and conflict inside the Wonderland. In the 1903 film adaptation, Alice was played by May Clark, a grown-up girl who worked at the Hepworth studio. The dreamlike nature of the screen reality is emphasized by the restraint of the amateur performers’ play and the unobtrusiveness of the fantastic, when the screen fantasy world is both similar and different from the everyday life. The marriageable age of the heroine and some of the scenes that look like Alice’s “going through the torments” make us interpret the action as the embodiment of her unconscious. The magic garden, where a young girl is so eager to get, a symbol of the desirable joys of an adult life, becomes a nightmare for Alice. The film was released in the same year as the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was established, and it merged into an era of revision of Victorian ideals and rejection of the perception of women in line with patriarchal values. Tim Burton’s film, created in the era of the new emancipation and reconsideration of gender, largely corresponds to the first screen adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, presenting the Victorian world as a generalized image of a society that suppresses the individual and naturally provokes protest.
Keywords: British silent film, film adaptation, narrative, fairy-tale film, fantasy, unconsciousness, dream, Victorianism, Alice, Lewis Carroll, Cecil Hepworth, Sigmund Freud