Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Alice (Něco z Alenky)

Alice (Něco z Alenky)

Другие названия:
Алиса (Russia)
Режиссер: Jan Svankmajer
Год: 1988
Страна: Чехословакия
Западная Германия
Время: 86 минут
Жанр: Animation / Fantasy / Horror

Когда Алиса следует за Белым Кроликом в Страну чудес, начинаются ее приключения в удивительном мире детских фантазий,
она преодолевает многие опасности и спасает сказочную страну от злой Дамы Червей.Объединяя методы мультипликации и
живого действия, чешский аниматор Ян Шванкмайер создал шедевр кино, поразительно интерпретировав первоначальную идею
классического рассказа Льюиса Кэррола.

There have been many vastly differing screen versions of Lewis Carroll’s phantasmagoric children’s nonsense tale, dating back to a star packed – Cary Grant, W.C.Fields, et al – Hollywood misfire in 1933, to Disney’s rather soporific 1951 animated version to a Jonathan Miller TV take and the 1972 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There was even a rather hilariously awful adult version in 1976 with Kristine de Bell doing more than just taking tea with the Mad Hatter. Carroll’s tale was always a surrealist’s fantasy before the very term was invented, a dark tale with undeniable erotic subtexts which Svankmajer more than acknowledges in his version, for those with eyes to see. Compatriot Milos Forman called it a mixture of Disney and Buñuel, and he wasn’t far wrong.

Svankmajer was the greatest apprentice of great Czech puppeteer Jiri Trnka, and he was in his early fifties when he made Alice. He’d made his name with such disturbing animated short fantasies as Down to the Cellar and The Pit, the Pendulum and Hope, which, by their very titles, are anything but traditional children’s fare. He maintained that stance with the very opening words of Alice; “now you will see a film made for children…perhaps.” Alice is first seen by a stream, tossing rocks into it while her mother or nurse reads a book. Bored out of her mind, she imagines herself in her nursery, and a whole world opens up in front of her when a white stuffed rabbit – who loses stuffing very easily and is continually eating sawdust to replenish his vitals and then sewing himself back up together – enters and quickly departs her room, with a sharp looking pair of scissors. Alice chases him across a muddy field, and into the drawer of a desk, which she disappears into head-first. Her adventures see her take in meetings with the caterpillar (who creates himself with the help of false teeth and goes to sleep by sewing his eyes shut), the Mad Hatter, the March Hare (with a passion for smearing clocks with butter), the Dormouse (actually an animated fox fur that comes out to lick the cups clean) and the King and Queen of Hearts.

His vision is often a brutal and disturbing one, from the maniacal passion for the two dimensional Queen of Hearts for decapitation – and of the white rabbit to oblige with his scissors – to Alice’s being stoned inside a doll’s house, attacked by a menagerie of skeletal animals (including a bed with wings), and in Alice having an aquatic rat set up on top of her head in a water filled room, to start a fire by hammering two wooden stakes into her head. The whole sequence of Alice inside the room – the drink- and eat-me sections involve stale tarts and ink – and involving a cat flap-sized doors and being turned into an 18-inch high china doll, are triumphs of the animator’s art. So are his rare but memorable transformations from the inanimate to the animate, as piglets, chickens and hedgehogs appear out of nowhere. Equally dark are his visions of phallic caterpillar-like stuffed socks weaving in and out of holes in the floor and of cans of cockroaches. Even Alice herself is no saintly little girl, her natural inquisitiveness (she’s often seen peering round doors and into holes) tempered by moments of cruelty and viciousness.

Some complained at the fact that it does become a little repetitious, and can be a tiring exercise for those not willing to give in to its truly insane vision. Others perhaps rightly bemoaned the poor dubbing of the English language version. Yet these are minor flaws. Influenced not only by Trnka, but also by the great Wladyslaw Starewicz and, perhaps, by the dark Gothic live-action works of Jaromil Jires and Juraj Herz, it’s undoubtedly Svankmajer’s richest and darkest film. It may not be perfect, but I don’t think anyone could make a perfect version. It is sufficient to say it is a masterpiece of animation, and truer to Carroll’s vision than one can have a right to expect.

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