Cinema's first Alice in Wonderland | Peter Robins

Tim Burton's 3D spectacle is only the latest in a long line of films inspired by Lewis Carroll's creation. The BFI has unveiled the very first one

Even in 1903, it seems, Alice in Wonderland was an irresistible invitation to creators of movie special effects. The BFI has put on YouTube what it reports to be the first-ever movie adaptation of Lewis Carroll's story – a wildly episodic 10-minute silent (originally 12 minutes; I suppose that might have helped) in which one spectacular scene after another is introduced with authentically Victorian-looking titling.

The BFI holds the only known copy – found, it says, in the possession of a cinema manager in Hove, and badly water-damaged. Despite being carefully restored, it reaches us through a blizzard of damaged emulsion. But there is plenty to enjoy. Even the scratchiness – along with the delicately shifting tints brought back by the restoration – mean that it
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