Posted by: meghanhealy | November 28, 2010

Alice Adapted (and a tangent about the Beatles)

I couldn’t resist sharing this link to the first film adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

The youtube caption reads:

The first-ever film version of Lewis Carroll’s tale has recently been restored by the BFI National Archive from severely damaged materials. Made just 37 years after Lewis Carroll wrote his novel and eight years after the birth of cinema, the adaptation was directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow, and was based on Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations. In an act that was to echo more than 100 years later, Hepworth cast his wife as the Red Queen, and he himself appears as the Frog Footman. Even the Cheshire cat is played by a family pet. With a running time of just 12 minutes (8 of which survive), Alice in Wonderland was the longest film produced in England at that time. Film archivists have been able to restore the film’s original colours for the first time in over 100 years.

On a tangent from the film clip, but still related to Alice: John Lennon credits The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “I am the Walrus” as being inspired by Lewis Carroll. In several interviews in the 1960s, Lennon argued that he did not know the the initials spelled LSD, although he certainly never denies his experimentation with drugs; he wrote the song based on a picture his son, Julian, had made of a schoolmate (Lucy) which he told his father was “Lucy in the sky with diamonds.” The images in the song were inspired by the “Wool and Water” chapter in Through the Looking Glass, and “I am the Walrus” came from “The Walrus and the Carpenter”; Lennon later announced he should have named it “I am the Carpenter” after realizing that the carpenter was actually the good guy. [Also, on the cover to the “Ballad of John and Yoko” single, the Wonderland land gnomes belonged to Paul McCartney, and Ringo starred in one of the Alice film adaptations, so John wasn’t the only Carroll-inspired Beatle.]


  1. You beat me to posting the Cecil Hepworth film! I love it. My favorite adaptation of the few I’ve seen has to be the one Jan Svankmajer did in 1988, though — it’s a wonderful surreal live action and stop motion piece. Here’s a clip, for anyone interested:

  2. Meghan–that’s so funny that Lennon wanted to name the song “I am the Carpenter” instead! I never would have thought that that song is inspired by Alice.

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