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Jan Svankmajer, the Czech master of animation, has fulfilled a lifetime ambition in this personal interpretation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." Svankmajer's "Alice" remains true to the absurdity of Carroll's original, but bears the stamp of his own distinctive style and obsessions. Combining techniques of animation and live action, he gives to this classic tale of childhood fantasies a new and fascinating dimension.
Svankmajer's film explores Alice in Wonderland's dark undercurrents: it unearths the fears that animate dreams and nightmares. --New York Times
- Bonus Short Film: Darkness Light Darkness
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Alice, the only live human in the film, is younger (about five, I’d guess) and poutier than many of us might have envisioned. She is also the most intrepid child imaginable. After experiences that would terrify most children—and most adults, for that matter—she just picks herself up and goes on to her next adventure, solving problems of inappropriate size, drawers and doors that won’t open, and so on with a practical and determined air. My hat is off to Kristyna Kohoutova, the young actress who plays her—well, most of the time. Svankmajer had the fascinating conceit of making Alice, when she shrinks to small dimensions, turn into an old-fashioned doll. The doll is just as intrepid as live Alice.
Of course the real star of the movie is Svankmajer’s stop-motion animation. My favorite characters are the helpers who try to aid the White Rabbit in evicting oversize (at that moment) Alice from his home, made from a jumble of animal skulls and bones glued together in a most anatomically incorrect fashion, including a coachman with a human skull and two lively skeleton horses. It doesn’t hurt that even before Alice’s adventure begins, she apparently lives in a Cabinet of Curiosities, filled not only with dolls and other toys but a wealth of taxidermied animals (the White Rabbit was one of these till he smashed his glass box and escaped), bones, and unidentifiable objects pickled in jars, all very handy for her nightmare to draw on later.
The movie does have a few flaws. The most annoying (which I see another reviewer also remarked on) is showing a supercloseup of Alice’s lips and teeth every time she identifies a character with a phrase such as “said the White Rabbit” or “Alice thought to herself.” The identifications are unnecessary, since it’s perfectly clear from the animation who is speaking, and I found the close-ups intrusive, distracting, and rather unpleasant. Some of the animated sequences, such as those in the Mad Hatter’s tea party, are repeated a few too many times, too. On the whole, though, this film is a fascinating, surrealistic, and very creepy journey down the Rabbit Hole. I would recommend it to anyone—except perhaps children, unless they are as intrepid as little Alice.
Despite all of the strange happenings, the movie sticks closely to the original story and we get to see bizarre versions of the Pool of Tears, the mad Tea Party, and the trial scene with the Queen of Hearts presiding. Sometimes there is unexpected humor, as in the scene where the Queen`s croquet equipment, formerly cardboard flamingoes and pin cushions, suddenly transforms into live chickens and hedgehogs. I think an imaginative kid would enjoy this a lot, though very young children might be disturbed by the bizarre appearance and actions of the Rabbit. The young girl who plays Alice is very charming and natural, one of the best I`ve seen as the character in years of being a fan of the book and adaptations of it. This is a creative and original version and well worth one`s time.
It's so good! Definitely give it a watch.