“Alice” (“Neco z Alenky”) 1988
Director: Jan Svankmajer
If you think about it, “Alice In Wonderland” is actually a pretty creepy story for little kids, if indeed Lewis Carroll ever intended it to be for children to begin with. I was always fascinated by it and some of the strange, creepy illustrations that were in the book I had. Then, many years later, I stumbled across Jan Svankmajer’s take on this, called “Alice”, starring blond bombshell (well, not quite, she’s probably like 10 or 11) Kristyna Kohoutová, as young Alice, and the mangiest assortment of antique stuffed toys ever to haunt your worst nightmares.
Svankmajer populates his films (short or feature-length) with plenty of old-fashioned toys, furniture, and (for some reason) slithering slabs of raw meat. In “Alice”, the March Hare is a stuffed rabbit in a glass case, that is, until it breaks the glass & pulls the nails out of its feet that hold it in place. And he seems to have a fairly steady sawdust leak as well. The tea party seems to consist of a few more ratty-looking stuffed toys, a couple of which actually pour tea into themselves only to have it gush out onto the floor. And, the caterpillar on the mushroom? Why, it’s a sock puppet that sews its eyes shut when it wants to go to sleep.
Despite the morbid nature of this film, it actually does seem to follow the original story fairly closely. A word of warning though….there is no swearing in this film, or full frontal nudity (or nudity of ANY kind, actually), or any racy dialog….but this film is STILL not for the kids, unless you like getting up to see what the little dears are screaming about at 2:00 AM. For this film is the stuff of which nightmares are made, and unless your child has been attending Lord of the Flies Elementary School, this film is probably not for them.
At any rate, Svankmajer’s surreal stop-motion animation fits this story quite well, and I rather like this film a lot. Of course, if you watch this and like it, you’ll also want to check out “Faust”, “Conspirators of Pleasure”, and “Little Otik”. Svankmajer also has two volumes worth of his short films available as well, although not everything he has made is available on DVD. “Alice” is a very worthwhile viewing experience but it definitely won’t be for everyone.