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Wonderland Film Series: Alice or Neco z Alenky
Thursday, March 20, 2014
6:00 PM-8:00 PM
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903
Auditorium (3rd Floor)
Alice (Neco z Alenky) (1988)
Alice is a 1988 fantasy film written and directed by Jan Švankmajer. Its original Czech title is Něco z Alenky, which means "Something from Alice". It is a free adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s first Alice book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1965) about a girl who follows a white rabbit into a bizarre fantasy land. Alice is played by Kristýna Kohoutová. The film combines live action with stop motion animation, and is distinguished by its dark and uncompromising production design.
After more than two decades as a prolific director of short films, Alice became Švankmajer's first venture into feature-length filmmaking. The director had been disappointed by other adaptations of Carroll's book, which interpret it as a fairy tale. His aim was instead to make the story play out like an amoral dream. The film won the feature film award at the 1989 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
Critical Response: In The New York Times Caryn James wrote that although Švankmajer "strips away all sweetness and light, he does not violate Lewis Carroll's story", and called Alice an "extraordinary film [which] explores the story's dark undercurrents". James described the animation as "remarkably fluid" and held forward the dynamics of the film, which contrasts visually captivating elements with superficiality: "Mr. Švankmajer never lets us forget we are watching a film in which an actress plays Alice telling a story", although, "with its extreme close-ups, its constant motion and its smooth animation, the film is so visually active that it distracts us from a heavy-handed fact - this is a world of symbols come alive."
Upon the British home-media release in 2011, Philip Horne reviewed the film for The Daily Telegraph. Horne called it "an astonishing film", and wrote: "This is no cleaned up version approved by preview audiences or committees of studio executives – my youthful fellow-spectator declared quite aptly at one point, 'She's rather a violent young girl, isn't she?' – but its glorious proliferation of magical transformations works like a charm on anyone who values the imagination."