after-wonderland

After Wonderland

It is after dark, January 26, 1932. The street is quite busy, people are entering and leaving the hotel.

CROSS FADE TO:

HOTEL SUITE

A reception is in full swing. Alice Hargreaves is meeting many of the guests for the first time. She is a handsome, eighty year old woman, very English and proper.

MARTIN RUBIN …is a young newspaperman watching from the side of the room. He is fixated on Alice, watching her every move, from time to time making a note in a small pad he takes from his pocket.

EFFECTS – A SERIES OF DISSOLVES

The crowd thins.

Now nearly midnight, the room has the look of after-a-party with the remains showing the people partying had no concern that they would be cleaning up. There are plates with bits of half-eaten food around the room, coffee cups with coffee or tea, glasses with half-drank highballs on ledges and tables. There is a serving table pretty much picked over.

There are only two people left in the room. Alice looks around and finds Rubin staring at her. She engages him in conversation.

He identifies himself as a reporter wanting the first person story of how Lewis Carroll created Wonderland for Alice. He says there are stories floating around that he would like to substantiate, rumors about his relationships with the little girls in his life.

Alice says she will tell him her story if he promises to hold it until after her death. Rubin argues, finally concedes. She looks at him with very clear eyes. She will make some tea for them while they talk.

She leaves for another room. Rubin walks around, examining the remnants of the party. He asks Alice how she met Carroll.

KITCHEN AREA

Alice looks up from her tea-making for a moment and looks at a past only she can see.

SFX: DISTANT SOUND OF CHILDREN CRYING OUT “TELL ME A STORY.”

Then she smiles and resumes her activities with the tea pot. She begins. She tells Rubin she barely recalls their first encounter; after all, she was only 4.

CROSS FADE TO:

FLASHBACK-EXT-CATHEDRAL-DAY

Reverend Dodgeson, dressed in his black clerical suit and hat, is setting up early photographic equipment .~ to record the cathedral gardens. The three Liddell sisters are there: 8 year old Ina, 4 year old Alice and 2 year old Edith.

Dodgeson is excited about meeting the children, nervous over the girls and can’t get them to pose right.

CUT TO:

1932: HOTEL ROOM

Alice pours tea into two cups and places them in front of herself and Rubin. Rubin immediately picks up his cup and takes a sip. He remarks on how smooth it tastes and takes another sip. Alice smiles and doesn’t drink hers.

Alice remarks that Dodgeson was the perfect playmate.

CUT TO:

FLASHBACK: DODGESON HOME – CHILD’S POV

The three sisters, each four years older, are in the middle of the sitting room. Dodgeson is still dressed completely in black, but is much more in his element.

The room is lined with book filled shelves; beneath are cupboards stuffed with all sorts of wonderment for children: toys and games and dolls. Dodgeson tells them stories and draws pictures and takes them on his knees. He is setting the mood for the photography sessions.

CROSS FADE TO:

PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION

The girls are posed in all sorts of costumes that match the photographs used in the credits.

CUT TO:

1932: HOTEL ROOM

Alice asks Rubin if he knows what a pedophile is. Rubin doesn’t and she explains. She tells how Dodgeson would always take photographs of the children in the nude. Her last line, with a cryptic grin, is that she and Dodgeson were lovers. And she tells him, he had many others.

Now, she says, we come to that brief moment that would assure our mutual fame.

CROSS FADE TO:

FLASHBACK: RIVER ISIS (THAMES)

It is a summer day, July 4, 1862. The river is placid, the sky is clear, the heat shimmers.

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