Friday, September 2, 2011

Něco z Alenky (Alice/ Something From Alice) (1988)

Dir: Jan Švankmajer

Yet another take on the timeless story of "Alice in Wonderland". Lewis Carroll's 1865 children's novel, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", was an advanced fairy tale written for children and adults alike. This one is a mix of both stop-motion animation and live action. Alice in this one is played by a true curious little girl (the only human being in the film), who goes through the typical Alice routine of shrinking and growing while chasing the white rabbit. The director turns the rabbit hole into a desk drawer as well as transforming her into a doll in some scenes and has made the other characters highly abstract through very practical depictions. For instance the white rabbit and other characters almost come off as taxidermy looking, while others are simply socks like the caterpillar and dolls and puppets like the March Hare, even the Mad Hatter is a marionette.

This being a very low budget film, the director seemed to take advantage of the idea that this entire film is happening from the perspective of Alice's own imagination. It feels like a very rudimentary home movie peaking into a girls bedroom as she plays tea with her dolls. The fact that Alice speaks all the lines in the film, with inter cut closeup shots of her lips speaking, cements the theme that this is all one very long and strange dream. However, having the actress speak the lines of all the characters ends up allowing Carroll's strange dialogue to lose its punch.

Jan Švankmajer had previously mastered a series of short films done in the same style with stop-motion effects. Taking this simplistic and familiar story and setting it on its head with highly stylized shots from a child's perspective is an interesting vision of the the tale that has never been done before. He also uses no music whatsoever, but completely ADR pronounced sound effects, which gives the film a kinda quiet eeriness. All the while, the director keeps the Lewis Carroll's often strange but dark vision intact. One thing I found odd, even though she's age appropriate, the Alice in this story isn't even wearing the typical Disney-fied blue dress; but that's a matter of choice opinion I guess. True to the book, the film is chock full of phallic imagery and strange dialogue.The film has to be seen, but it of course isn't the greatest adaptation of the story.