By and large, the biggest problem with most adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s fable is people’s tendency to read too much into it. I guess it could be said that he so effectively created absurdity that people cannot handle the absurdity of it and MUST give it meaning. Thus, film adaptations of Alice in Wonderland tend to either stray from the original story to include other random and bizarre things the director or screenwriter feels like inserting, or worse, includes some unnecessary theme or social statement. This short, over a hundred years old and the first ever adaptation of the book, succeeds mostly because its technical limitations, time constraints, and lack of sound allows the camera to just sit back and enjoy the absurd nature of Wonderland without too much deviation or social statement. It’s an abridged Alice, but a true to form Alice nonetheless. Unfortunately, “Alice” is still too old.
The effects are light and mostly done through double-exposures, sometimes giving away the process but they still tell the story, which is the most important part. Unintentionally, the awkward movements of silent cinema on today’s screens help create a much more surrealistic movement behind the characters which helps. Unintentionally, the damage and rot that has occurred to the only surviving print over the years is also tragic, as it blows over some of the best moments and sometimes makes the movie a little hard to watch. This is an early silent film, so the blocking is mostly along a traditional staging, with cuts only between certain locations (or effects). This movie is meant to be flat and allow the viewer to enjoy the magic as it happens, not skip around with jumpcuts and uneven spokes. Oh well, what exists is an impression of what once was, and the idea is still there.