Monday, April 18, 2011

796. Neco z Alenky/Alice (1988)

Running Time: 86 minutes
Directed By: Jan Svankmajer
Written By: Jan Svankmajer, from the novel Alice in Woderland by Lewis Carroll
Main Cast: Kristyna Kohoutova


I mentioned yesterday that one of the films leaving the streaming portion of Netflix this week is "Alice", Czech director Jan Svankmajer's interpretation of Alice in Wonderland. At a running time of only 86 minutes, last night I decided to give it a look and as hesitant as I was, it actually wasn't TOO bad.

We all know the basic premise of Alice in Wonderland - a little girl named Alice chases a white rabbit through the looking glass. In Jan Svankmajer's version, there's still a little girl named Alice, but here she follows a stuffed rabbit (filled with what seems to be sawdust) through a desk drawer. Once through the "portal" that is the desk drawer, Alice continues to chase the white rabbit and get his attention. However, every time she calls out to him, he gets scared and runs away. Alice eventually stumbles over a bottle of ink and some tarts and has a drink and a bite (yes, she drinks ink), but with every bite she goes from being a real girl to a small, china doll. As a china doll, the white rabbit recognizes her as someone he knows, but as a real girl the rabbit continues to be scared. Later, she comes across some sock-a-pillars (socks used as caterpillars for the sake of this version), with teeth and eyes. Oh yeah, there's also a cut of beef that crawls out of a pot and around the floor, a rat that sets up camp on top of Alice's head (complete with skillet and fire) and this is all before she meets the Mad Hatter and the March Hare (a brown rabbit, with a loose eye, who has wheels for legs). And even after all that she's still to meet the king and queen, which here are cardboard cutouts from playing cards. Whew...this film is stuffed (no pun intended).

No "spoiler alert" needed, because you simply have to experience this film to see all the crazy stuff for yourself. I've been eyeballing this one on my Netflix queue for the longest time and every time I passed it, I said to myself that it looked too strange and almost convinced myself that I'd hate it. Even after it started last night, I was already waiting for it to end, but once it got rolling I realized it wasn't that bad. I mean, the content is so off the wall that you can't help but be at least somewhat amused/interested by it. I think they really hooked me when Alice started crying and she cried so much that she flooded the room she was in, forcing her to swim around and find a tart so that she could eat it and become a life size girl again. Once she's life size a sewer rat climbs out of the water and on to her head and sets up camp, cooking himself a meal by chopping off a few locks of Alice's hair to start a fire. I mean, once you see that you can't deny the absolutely unconventional nature of the film.

There were still some things I didn't like though. I'm not a big animation guy and for all of the positives this film had, most of the negatives would be chalked up in the "not for me" column. I also hated the girl who kept popping up and speaking for the White Rabbit. It was absolutely annoying to the point that I dreaded the White Rabbit even talking, because surely the closeup of the girls lips would return and break the flow of the movie.


Maybe there is a reason to include a spoiler alert, now that I think of the ending. I'm not sure about the original story of Alice in Wonderland, but in this one Alice wakes up in the end and realizes that it has all been a dream. I liked that, because the film is so out there that explaining it as a dream makes a lot of sense and actually allows you to rewatch the film and remember that it's all the dream of a little girl named Alice.

RATING: 5/10 We'll split it down the middle and call it average. There were definitely parts that weren't for me, but I'd still recommend it based on the unconventional nature...a "you have to see it to believe it" kind of deal. .


April 18, 2011 12:52pm

1 comment:

  1. I've only just caught up with this one.. (Only just be made available on Dvd), and I'm still not sure what I made of it.
    I generaly like 'odd' films- and this was certainly odd, but it failed to engage me.
    I think one of those to mull over in the mind, come back to another time, in full knowledge of what you are letting yourself in for, and give it another go.


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