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 »
When a childless couple learn that they cannot have children, it causes great distress. To ease his wife's pain, the man finds a piece of root in the backyard and chops it and varnishes it into the shape of a child. However the woman takes the root as her baby and starts to pretend that it is real. When the root takes life they seem to have gained a child; but its appetite is much greater than a ... See full summary »
A quiet young English girl named Alice finds herself in an alternate version of her own reality after chasing a white rabbit. She becomes surrounded by living inanimate objects and stuffed ... See full summary »
A man takes up residence with a mysterious marquis and is soon persuaded to enter into an asylum for preventative therapy. Things are not what they seem, and the marquis may be even more sinister than what the young man may've predicted.
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 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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The Alice books are one of the two richest works of literature yet produced. Of the best literature, Alice lends itself to cinematic reinterpretation. And this filmmaker has vision.
But Alice is a coherent work, following the 'apprentice' novel and having kabbalistic structure. This film is episodic, each episode conceived as a different world, connected only by doors. The stories establish an abstract world, a world of logic so pure that the weaknesses of logic are apparent. That's only in part attempted here.
Though in Czech, there is some dainty wordplay: Alice is messing about in her drawers. Initially, these contain drawing equipment, later scissors. The filmmakers' signature 'large person in small room' image is used here in the episode where 'Maryanne' (Alice plus her 'house) is attempted entry by Bill the lizard, Dodgson's image of sperm. Bill is mirrored later in the frog-footman, heavily phallic as is an introduced sequence where the feet themselves become penile, then advisory.
Svenkmajer understands the cards as Tarot, a seldom understood insight and adds a vignette of the March Hare and Hatter playing cards (almost certainly a nod to 'Seventh Seal'). There's some very good visual handling of inside/outside ambiguities, and stage/reality shifting -- this alone makes this project worth sharing. But aside from that, it seems that the magic of Alice's world has yet to be tapped by a filmmaker.
Note: in Carroll's vision, innocence trumps all: logic is seen as manmade and fallible. In this world confabulated reasoning threatens but no one really loses their head. Not so in Svenkmajer's bleak world. Heads really are lost. Innocence is at least dumbfounded and possibly unreal (those socks). Many heads are already decayed with only the skull remaining. Some beings are composed of empty skulls alone or with some ambulatory object. This is not a happy man, nor a world with any sunshine. I would not give these images to any child.
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