The maddest of mad tea parties comes calling

Mad Hatter's Tea Party 1903 film stills
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Parties are something of an escape chute: the festive indulgences allow us to escape reality and enter a new world, even if just for one night. This is never more true than around Halloween when the devilish and macabre enter the scene. As we prepare for the most surreal night of the year, we like to imagine what it would be like to be trapped in the haunted house of Lewis Carroll’s dreamlike, drug-altered Wonderland.

Alice in Wonderland first came to life in a fantastically creepy silent film in 1903. For us, the movie’s nascent special effects lend an otherworldliness to the Mad Hatter’s infamous tea party that’s yet to be matched by any of the story’s more recent adaptations.

For just a single night a year, we’d like to receive an invitation to tea from an unlikely hologram of the Cheshire Cat and sit beside a disoriented man in an oversized rabbit mask. As the White Rabbit argued with our crazed host as we tried to feign the formality of high tea, we think we could enjoy the absurdity of it all. The ringing silence would be something to behold, so long as we could be sure to wake up before the Queen of Hearts beheaded us.

Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow’s 1903 Alice in Wonderland was restored by the British film Institute’s National Archive in 2010.