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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Literature > Stop-Motion Animation > Jan Svankmajerís Alice (1988/First Run Features U.S. Blu-ray)

Jan Svankmajer's Alice (1988/First Run Features U.S. Blu-ray)

Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: D Film: B+

You have never seen the story of Alice in Wonderland quite like this. This film is dark, disturbing, and masterfully made using practical effects and stop motion animation. It is a free adaptation of Lewis Carroll's first Alice book - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which was written in 1865.

After more than two decades as a prolific director of short films, Alice (1988) became ҆vankmajer's first venture into feature length films. The director had been disappointed by other adaptations of Carroll's book, including the infamous Walt Disney version, which interpreted it more 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 and with good reason!

Alice appears to be in her own bedroom, when a taxidermically stuffed rabbit comes to life and breaks out of its glass case. Alice follows the rabbit through the drawer of a desk into a cavern. She subsequently falls through a bucket and seemingly down an elevator shaft. Wonderland itself is a mix of drab household-like areas with incongruous relationships of space and size. The Queen's execution sentences are carried out by the White Rabbit with a pair of scissors. At the film's end, Alice wakes in her room, discovers that the rabbit is still missing from his glass case, and finds a secret compartment where he keeps scissors. She ponders whether or not she will cut his head off. The film is ambiguous about whether this room is Alice's real world or Wonderland. Remind you a little bit of Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch?

The 1080p 16X9 transfer is beautifully restored in this release along with its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Unfortunately, there aren't any extras unlike the BFI U.K. Blu-ray, which is Region Free and you can read more about at this link:


Sounds like the same great transfer, though the sound is PCM instead.

If you are a fan of the original story or a fan of bizarre animation, then you definitely want to check this film out. It is definitely an original vision on the subject and is a far cry from the Tim Burton version and definitely stands on its own as a cinema classic.

- James Harland Lockhart V



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