Like many I suspect have never heard about nor seen this film, although critically acclaimed I have never heard anyone speak of it even in regards to when the Disney adaptations were released. I only came across it due to watching a friends youtube channel ”What do we know” check it out, it is really good. They introduced me to it and from the clips I seen of it, they were very unusual and unique and I was intrigued to watch it.
Czech director Jan Svankmajer adapts his interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s book ”Alice in Wonderland” Now truthfully I am not very familiar with this directors work and this is the first film of his I have seen. I have also actually never read the book, so I can’t really comment on how it stays true the book other than going off what critics say. It was released in 1988 so as you can imagine it wasn’t privy to the World of specials affects and CGI that we have in the present day.
I have seen the two Disney adaptations which weren’t anything to rave about especially the second one, but it was Disney so you were obviously going to get the family friendly version with lots of bright colors. So when I sat down to watch this adaptation you could imagine my surprise to what I saw, as it wasn’t quite what I expected and I still don’t know if that is a good or bad thing.
Dialogue driven this film is not, so it relies quite a lot on what is happening on screen and the girls body language and facial expressions. This was quite a unique role for a young actress to play, but I think she did an exceptional job. The director creates this incredibly bizarre and for a child, quite a scary World. Even I was a bit shocked at how dark and dreary Wonderland was, but this was a young girls nightmare and Jan envisioned and created a dark tone throughout which I actually quite liked.
The stop motion was just marvelous and amazingly done, but I was even rattled by how terrifying the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter looked. They weren’t colorful and welcoming like the ones we see in the Disney films, but rather haunting. I find it crazy that this is actually a film for children, as I could imagine a lot of children being petrified watching this and also quite difficult for them to maybe follow and understand.
The images below may do my words more justice if you actually see what I mean.
I’m not slating the film whatsoever, but rather I am trying to emphasize on how this is a children’s film but these stop motion models look like something out of a horror film and if I was a young child I might be a bit terrified watching this. The director was always disappointed by other adaptations of Carroll’s book, which was always adapted and interpreted into a fairy tale. This film actually has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
From the reviews I have read, they seem to claim that although this is a unique interpretation from the director and he does add his own touch to the film, he still stays true to the book. I always appreciate a film that stays through to the book, and I intend on purchasing a copy of this book and actually reading it to see is it truly as dark as made out on screen.
I didn’t love nor hate this movie and I think that is the best way for me to sum up my opinion on it. It was quite an experience and it is definitely a must see film that you need to see at least once. I personally would never watch it again and watching it once is enough to leave a lasting impression on me, but it is such a unique and bizarre film that the director has created and it is something you should watch just to experience it.