Něco z Alenky is my first, and for now, the only Jan Svankmajer movie. I came across it on WTM and postponed the viewing until the time is just right for something surrealistic and different like this movie seemed to be. That time came few days ago.
Svankmajer follows Caroll’s novel (which I liked very much) quite accurately plot-wise, with majority of characters and most of the main occurrences but gives it a different spin with combined action and stop animation, narration and ending.
What I like the most about this movie is that it is in a way very disturbing, with the taxidermically stuffed rabbit, skeleton animals running around, actual decapitation scenes, death and sense of unease that follows Alice while she continues to go further down the rabbit hole. While she progresses it seems that she’s not concerned about what’s going to happen around the next corner as if she’s aware she is dreaming a lucid dream and wants to have some fun. Only it doesn’t seem she’s having much fun. Apart from few laughs and tears as well, she’s quite indifferent about what goes around her, her main goal is to catch the white rabbit. She just wants to catch that white rabbit. She shows no fear when she shrinks or gets bigger after eating cookies or drinking ink (!), or when a rat starts to cook dinner on her head just before she’s about to drown to death. Sometimes it even feels like she’s not the one in charge of her actions, as if she’s on some kind of auto – pilot. This is a fairy tale turned upside down and if you ask me for the better.
Another thing that I find great is the use of household items, ordinary things such as kitchen supplies, clothes and such to portray the characters and environment in this surrealist dream which makes it more realistic, and easier to relate to. Alice is not wondering around some flashy unknown world, she’s running up and down trough some old Prague building which is little bit off, while laws of time and space don’t seem to apply. It’s something she sees every day incorporated in her dream and comes alive through her imagination that constructs this wonderland, and perhaps that is the reason why she is not afraid – it’s all too familiar.
The narration, or what little of it there is, is pulled of very well through close ups of Alice’s mouth talking, or rather narrating, giving stage directions of what just happened on screen. This partially backs up the theory that she is well aware that she’s dreaming, and that she’s in charge of whatever happens next.
To wrap this up, Něco z Alenky is the best adaptation of Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland I’ve seen so far and great visual experience for anyone who likes a piece of different story telling and different cinematic approach, part of which can’t even be properly evoked trough the written word.
Neco z Alenky(1988)
- Jan Svankmajer
A memorably bizarre screen version of Lewis Carroll's novel 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', mixing one live actor with a large variety of stop-motion animated creatures, ranging from the complex to the incredibly simple.