A very free adaptation of Marlowe's 'Doctor Faustus', Goethe's 'Faust' and various other treatments of the old legend of the man who sold his soul to the devil. Svankmajer's Faust is a ... See full summary »
A horror movie testing two approaches to running an insane asylum - absolute freedom versus control and punishment - within the context of a world that combines the worst of both. Jean ... See full summary »
Six outwardly average individuals have elaborate fetishes they indulge with surreptitious care. A mousy letter carrier makes dough balls she grotesquely ingests before bed. A shop clerk ... See full summary »
A three-part depiction of various forms of communication. 'Factual Discussion' depicts three heads (made up of fruit, kitchen utensils and writing implements respectively) endlessly ... See full summary »
BREAKFAST: After eating breakfast, a man is transformed into an elaborate dumb-waiter-style breakfast dispenser - and the same fate befalls the man who obtains breakfast from him. LUNCH: ... See full summary »
A bust of Stalin is cut open on an operating table, leading to an elaborate animated depiction of Czech history from 1948 (the Communist takeover) to 1989 (the Velvet Revolution). Some ... See full summary »
A man sits down to watch a football match, which seems to consist of the players being violently mutilated in various inventive ways. The players then leave the football pitch and invade ... See full summary »
A memorably bizarre screen version of Lewis Carroll's novel 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', mixing one live actor (Alice) with a large variety of stop-motion animated creatures, ranging from the complex (the White Rabbit) to the incredibly simple (the Caterpillar, consisting of a sock, a couple of glass eyes and a pair of false teeth). The original story is followed reasonably faithfully, though those familiar with this director's other films won't be the least bit surprised by the numerous digressions into Svankmajer territory, living slabs of meat and all. As the opening narration says, it's a film made for children... perhaps? Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
In the outdoor scene when Alice cuts her finger, she is obviously missing a front tooth. See more »
Alice thought to herself... Alice thought to herself 'Now you will see a film... made for children... perhaps... ' But, I nearly forgot... you must... close your eyes... otherwise... you won't see anything.
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Wanna give your kiddies nightmares for the rest of their lives?
About five years ago, when I had just graduated from high school, a friend of mine who had been to college introduced me to the works of Jan Svankmajer. He had checked out a VHS copy of three short films, Darkness/Light/Darkness, Male Games, and The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia. All three of them were works of great genius, and I immediately stored Svankmajer's name in my vault. So it's sad that it took me all five of these years to see another one of his works. I had thought about buying his Faust back when DVDs were dirt-cheap (do you remember those happy days?), but had passed over it for something else. Now I finally found another one of his films, Alice, this one a feature, his adaptation of Lewis Carrol's Alice's Adventures of Wonderland. And, wow, this is one frightening little film, a mix of live-action (well, one little girl) and stop-motion animation of characters like the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts. Stop-motion animation has always looked creepy, and Sankmajer knows it. He also knows that dead animals are scary, and he incorporates their bones into his animation. It makes the whole film more visceral and surreal.
There are two parts of this film that deserve particular attention. 1) the soundtrack. There is no musical score, and the only music at all is the tiny piece that plays over the closing credits. No, by soundtrack I am referring to the sound effects, and they are absolutely amazing. 2) the setting.The original novel and the Disney film set the story in a bizarre forest. Sankmajer sets the story in a delapidated house, with rotting and filthy wooden beams everywhere, creaky doors, and old cabinets. The setting is what makes the film particularly creepy.
As for standout scenes, the caterpillar is pretty awesome. The very best scene, though, is definitely the tea party, with the Mad Hatter and March Hare. Svankmajer's conception of those two characters and of the tea party is truly inspired, and ranks among the best scenes in cinema, in my opinion.
So is it perfect? No. The idea to have Alice speak all the lines, and then show her lips speaking such words as: "The Mad Hatter said" every two minutes grows annoying quickly, and the film would perhaps have been a masterpiece had this flaw been avoided. It seems to be in there for adding time, and it's truly unfortunate. I also wish that Svankmajer would have hurried up the beginning of the film, so as to get to other great scenes in the novel. It takes a half hour before Alice gets into Wonderland, and that's the only time the film grows boring. Whatever. This is still a great film. 9/10.
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