Tuesday, November 22, 2011


 With the news that both Grimm and Once Upon A Time have been picked up for full 22 episode seasons, it seems that fairy tales are now riding back into popularity on the heels of the vampire and supernatural trend. Personally, I thought Once was a poisoned apple and couldn't sit through the first episode. I have yet to take in Grimm, although I'm looking forward to giving it a chance.

 This resurgence of fairy tale popularity got me thinking about the most impressive adaptation of Alice In Wonderland I've seen, Czech director Jan Švankmajer's 1988 surreal live action and stop animation film, Něco z Alenky.

 From the 1903 silent film to Tim Burton's disappointing take to Syfy's futuristic Alice mini-series, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been reworked for the screen over a dozen times. This classic has been re-envisioned many more times if you include fare like The Matrix, the Silent Hill video game series or CBC's underrated This Is Wonderland into the mix.

 Švankmajer has said that he interpreted Carroll's work as if it were a dream; not a fairy tale as many other adapters have.

 "While a fairy tale has got an educational aspect – it works with the moral of the lifted forefinger, good overcomes evil; dreams, as an expression of our unconscious, uncompromisingly pursue the realisation of our most secret wishes without considering rational and moral inhibitions. [Dreams are] ...driven by the principle of pleasure. My Alice is a realised dream."

 The finished product may be closer to a nightmare than a dream. The creatures Alice encounters on her strange journey are not cuddly and are rather combative, making for a truly gripping and visually vital film. If only Burton's version were this authentically dark.

Below is the first part of Něco z Alenky. For more of Švankmajer's hypnagogic work see Food or Dimensions of Dialogue.

Part 1

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