Alice – Jan Svankmajer

‘Alice’ is a stop motion fantasy film mixed with live action film by Jan Svankmajer, based on the original book by Lewis Carol Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Svankmayer’s production is remarkable, and filled with dark humor and wonder that makes this film distinguishable from any other Carol adaptation.

It begins with a girl, who follows a taxidermy rabbit into a magical land through a chest of drawers, where everything is very strange and uneasy. Alice follows the rabbit into a cave, where she falls backwards into a bucket and consequently finds herself in an elevator shaft, which drops her into a room with a door, and another tiny door cut into it, but no key. She drinks a potion and a key which she finds when another chest of drawers reveals itself, which turns her into a china doll. Now that she is small enough to get through the small door, she cannot reach the key which is inside the chest and begins to cry. The tears fill the whole room with water.

The film has cameo’s to the book, but it is like it has been completely stripped of light. It is more like a long vivid dream. The queen is made of paper, and orders the rabbit to chop of heads, which he executes with a pair of rusty scissors, and the mad hatter is a wooden puppet, with his hare friend whose eye keeps popping off.

The whole film is narrated by the main character ‘Alice’ who speaks for all the characters in the film, reminding the viewer of the storybook theme that this film is based. Each scene is accompanied by loud sound effects, instead of music, which makes for an extremely unique viewing experience.

My favorite part of the production, is when alice opens a door into a room, where socks have come to life, wriggling around the room like worms. Outside the door is stacks of shoes, where visitors have left them before, she of course does the same, and almost looses her socks before she leaves.

The whole scene set-up is very disorientating, and it is impossible to tell where alice is going next, every door takes her somewhere different, although all the places she visits pay homage to that of a ‘normal’ house.

Overall, I would say ‘Alice’ is a masterpiece of live action and stop motion animation. It keeps in with the old fashioned style of Jan Svankmajer’s work, as well as containing highly sophisticated stop motion. I am so glad that I got to watch this film and incorporate it into my research, as it has helped me see what can be done on the terms of stop motion animation, which I hope to use as a final piece for this project.

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