Saturday, October 10, 2009

Personal Canon: 88. Nieco z Alenky (Alice) (1988)

Directed by Jan Svankmajer
Starring: Kristýna Kohoutová

I hadn't researched Jan Svankmajer's Alice before I sat down to watch it as part of my Animated Film module, assuming rightly that it was based on the story of Alice in Wonderland and wrongly that it was going to be somewhat colourful. The pallid nature of the film, which mixes a child actor and mostly genuine locations with stop-motion characters, adds to the eery drained atmosphere of a world that's very far removed from the Wonderland I'd been accustomed to.

As the visually creative Tim Burton seeks to re-jig the story this coming Spring even he will have a job to match the creepy exploits of Svankmajer, who extracts all of the sinister elements of Lewis Caroll's characters, including an intimidating and very anti-social white rabbit, a clockwork Mad Hatter and March Hare, and an axe-wielding Queen of Hearts. As a character Alice is impetuous and cold, and the deadpan repetition of her delivery of "said the white rabbit", accompanied by a close-up of the girl's mouth, gives the impression that this girl is entranced, inhuman even.

Above all, Alice is a victory for interpretation and originality. Svankmajer isn't subverting Alice into an anti-fairy tale so much as interpreting the more intense, enigmatic areas of the story to reveal the darkness in Caroll's work. The physical transformations Alice must endure in order to adapt to Wonderland's cavernous character, and how the people she meet encourage intolerance and disorder.

1 comment:

skilled_methodz said...

Hi Calum,

I saw this movie back in 2006 which actually sparked my interest in Eastern Europe. Because of this movie I've decided to travel to Russia in the near future.