Alice’s adventures at Black Rock


Alice revisits Black Rock, a place she used to explore with her Uncle in her childhood. Whilst there, she is triggered into remembering a specific instance of sexual abuse. The film weaves in Brighton’s connection to Lewis Carroll, a suspected paedophile, writer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

This is a re-edited version of the film I completed in January 2013.


Place: research


Lewis Carroll’s connection to Sussex Square intrigued me so I Googled him. There is an academic debate that exists around whether he was a paedophile. He took photographs of little girls, some of them nude. He apparently asked the parents if it was okay. Some academics are stating it was the norm in Victorian times to photograph naked little girls and that makes it okay. However, my mother states the same thing regarding hitting children. Just because “everyone” was doing it, it doesn’t make it okay. Also, the girls in the photographs are posed provocatively; here’s an example:


It is obvious Carroll arranged the child in the pose. This is a photograph he took of himself and Alice Liddell, the inspiration for his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She is kissing him with her mouth open. To me this suggests she has been groomed to respond to him in this way.


I find this photo disturbing. It also relates to my film: the main character, Alice, was sexually abused in childhood but has suppressed the memories of the abuse and, instead, hero worships her abuser. It is synchronous that Lewis Carroll has a connection with the place I want to make a film about. I spent some time making notes about books I could borrow about Lewis Carroll to try to get a better handle on it. I could also research paedophilia in Victorian times.

Carroll’s connection with Sussex Square is this: his sister lived at 11 Sussex Square for four years and he was a frequent visitor. It is said he thought of the idea for the downward journey into Wonderland because of the tunnel that leads from Sussex Square gardens to the undercliff walk:


You can just make out doors in the tunnel walls which relates to the corridor in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I thought about how I might incorporate Carroll into my film. I know someone who lives at Sussex Square. Perhaps I can gain access to the gardens. In the group crit yesterday my tutor stated the Freudian idea of a downward journey as a trip into the unconscious or uncanny.

Group Crit: Place

I presented my film idea of using Volks Railway Station at Black Rock as a location for the story I want to tell. I received the following feedback:

There’s a film using a desolate location on the Diversity and Place film festival of Canada website. It’s set at an old mill.

In relation to showing altered states of consciousness, there is a drug scene in Midnight Cowboy.

It was suggested that I make two pieces so that one is about place and one is about the autobiographical story I want to externalise and look at. I wonder if it’s possible to combine two films in one?

There was a swimming pool to the east of the railway station: Brighton Lido that was built in the 1930s and destroyed in the 1970s. Perhaps there is screen archive footage of this. I could overlay sounds of people at the Lido as a way of juxtaposing different entertainment styles in different ages – my film includes a free party scene.

There is a book, Out of Order, showing photographs of free parties.

During a classmate’s crit, Tim stated “you only really use your imagination when you’re confined.” This made me think about the main character’s self conscious episode in the middle of the dancers. Perhaps there’s something about place within a group and what happens when there isn’t enough space.

The link between Sussex Square, adjacent to the railway station, and Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was pointed out.

It was suggested that if I do get a sound system to the railway station the police might be called. We discussed ways of dealing with this and even calling them myself. Rees stated that if you tell the police you’re filming they are powerless to stop you and less likely to be brutal. Perhaps I could get them on my side before the shoot by talking to them and asking them to be part of it or is this a digression?