By Brett Mullins
Original Title: Neco z Alenky (Czech)
Directed by Jan Svankmajer
Alice is an unusual adaptation of Louis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that is certainly meant for a more mature audience. This is noted in the first lines of the film: “Alice thought to herself 'Now you will see a film... made for children... perhaps...’” This film requires a high level of maturity because of complexity of its surrealist style, not because of the content as in other Alice films, such as Alice in Wonderland: An X Rated Musical Fantasy.
It’s difficult to get around how creepy this film is. Perhaps it’s that there is only one human actor, and she is occasionally turned into a doll. Perhaps it’s the stop motion animation. Perhaps it’s that when characters die, they can have their stuffing put back into their bodies, have another character suture the wound, and return to life. Perhaps it’s that the film was originally produced in Czech and dubbed horribly into English.
Despite how disturbing the film is, it never ceases to be an enthralling, albeit confusing, experience. For the most part, I do not find experimental films enjoyable, especially those which emphasize ambiguity in the film’s meaning. When I begin to feel bored with a film, I usually check to see how long the film has been playing. I was surprised to find with Alice that I only checked twice: once at 49 minutes and and another at 70.
The only disappointing aspect of the film is that the Cheshire Cat was not included in the plot. This is most likely because his role contains many lines of dialogue, and dialogue is fairly sparse in this film as it is wholly narrated by the main character.
In combining dark comedy elements with stop motion and a surrealist style, director Jan Svandmajer is able to produce an effective film that is certainly not for everyone, especially children.