Thursday, 23 August 2007

August 23rd - Jan Svankmajer's "ALICE"


This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter."

“One side of WHAT? The other side of WHAT?” thought Alice to herself.

“Of the mushroom,” said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.

A much loved tale from childhood, one best read unabridged when grown up; a story never satisfactorily adapted to celluloid or the like. Walt Disney’s effort (the 1951 version) is gallant, but discards a lot of the logic Lewis Carroll invested in the book. So too, for that matter, does ┼ávankmajer’s version. It is certainly not a translation, as such, being more of an allusion to the original, and it frequently goes off on its own ‘trip’. The whimsical air is replaced here by a brooding feeling of unease, a feeling which, though it may bring our heroine down, nonetheless cannot hold her back in her determination.

About the Director: Jan ┼ávankmajer (b. 1934) is an inventive Czech filmmaker and artist, best known for his animated work that frequently features stopmotion and ‘pixilation’. As a continuing adherent of his country’s Surrealist movement, he deals mostly with themes in a way that subverts conventional perception of reality. His films include the provocative FAUST (1994), and the shorts DIMENSIONS OF DIALOGUE (1982) and PICNIC WITH WEISSMANN(1968).

We wish to thank Jayakrishnan (GD) for the poster.

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