Friday, June 17, 2011


Year: 1988
Director: Jan Svankmajer
Writer: Jan Svankmajer
Genre: Fantasy

The story of how I became a Svankmajer fan is one that happened fully on chance. It came from reading some random thread on SomethingAwful and seeing someone with the strangest animated avatar. Someone asked them what on earth it was. The answer was it was the baby in the film Little Otik. As the image intrigued me so damn much, I went ahead and got a copy of the film and watched it straight away. It was great. It was a sort of fairy tale gone dark and weird (in a much different and "realer" way than Tim Burton's modern stuff). So, that's my backstory.

I didn't even know he made an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland until more recently. Obviously, it interested me but finally just got around to seeing it shortly ago. While it does contain his signature eccentricity, it doesn't come together as an all-together great piece. Firstly, the film draws on much too long and is very dull in many parts.

There was some definite charm and moments where I laughed out of sheer amazement, but these moments were few and far between. The story is about the same as the original from what I recall, but of course played out a bit odder. The caterpillar character for example is a sock with holes in it which he fills with marble eyes. he sits upon a wooden knob and hides in a desk drawer while sleeping. It's odd stuff.

What is most interesting is to see how what is now basically classified as a "children's story" can still be so warped. In the introductory monologue Alice states that this is a movie for children "perhaps?". All I know is it would be a rather horrific movie for a child. The visuals are much stranger than any Disney film and the animation technique of Svankmajer always borders on creepy. It might be worth a watch for Alice in Wonderland buffs, but otherwise you're not missing much.

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