Reverent fidelity: early adaptations of Alice


Wonderland offered learners the opportunity to explore a rich literary text across multiple curriculum areas. Engage with evocative storytelling, creative filmmaking and innovative technologies.

You can also visit the Wonderland exhibition virtually through Google Arts & Culture: Explore Wonderland.

The more curious you are, the more you'll discover...

Suitable for year levels: 3-6

Learning areas: Drama, English, Media & Media Arts, Technologies

Capabilities: Creative and critical thinking

1. Watch

This 1903 film was the first film adaptation of Lewis Carrol's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and was memorable for its use of special effects, something you didn't see in a lot of films back then.

Watch Alice in Wonderland (Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow 1903) above.

1. List all of the special effects you see.
2. How do you think the filmmakers used the camera to make these special effects?
3. Can you make the same effects using only a camera and tripod? How might you go about it?

2. Draw

Alice in the hall of mirrors

The image above shows the character of Alice in the famous Hallway of Doors from a 1988 film adaptation called Alice.

Create your own Hallway of Doors or Rabbit Hole by drawing a one-point perspective drawing.

You can check out this great example or watch this how-to video to help get you started.

3. Read & write

Alice magic lantern slide 1905

Read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a class. You can find a digital version of Lewis Carroll's 1895 book online here.

Some strange things happen to Alice in the book; she is forever growing and shrinking.

Write a short story about growing enormous or becoming really small. What problems does your character encounter, and how do they get back to their original size? 

4. Design

Jan Švankmajer's Alice

Choose a chapter from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as inspiration for a film or animation, then design your sets and characters through illustrations.

After you've sketched your sets and characters, plan a storyboard for your Wonderland scene. A storyboard contains sketches of what all the camera shots for a film scene will look like and show. You can learn about creating storyboards here.

5. Photograph

The omnipresent Alice

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice grows and shrinks. To make a character appear either big or small in a film or in a photo, you can use a trick called forced perspective.

Take a photo of a friend that makes them appear either giant or tiny.  To create the illusion, think about where you place the camera and what is in the frame.

Here are some great examples of forced perspective photos for inspiration.

6. More activities

Wonderland, Melbourne. Image credit - Anne Moffat, 2018.jpg

Lewis Carrol's letters

Lewis Carrol loved writing letters, in particular, he loved writing letters using 'rebus', where pictures and symbols replaced words.

Read this letter Lewis Carroll wrote back in 1869. Can you understand it?

Write your own rebus letter addressed to Lewis Carroll. Maybe ask him some questions about his life and written works!

Hallway of Doors

Check out this digitised copy of Lewis Carrol's original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. Can you believe he created this book entirely by hand?

Write and illustrate your own short book, and think about what you should illustrate, and what you should leave to your reader's imagination.

Pool of Tears

View the Magic Lantern Slides from the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum.

Choose a slide to inspire your own creation. Think about colour, line and layout. What will you add to make your slide original?

A Mad Tea Party

Found out about the Utah Teapot. Why is it so famous? Who made it famous?

You can start by watching this video.

The Wonderland Tea Party

The Utah Teapot is relevant to Wonderland because the exhibition used projection mapping to create an pretty incredible experience - the Mad Hatter's Tea Party!

You can find out more about this project in this short documentary on Wonderland.