Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

The Creepiest Versions of Alice on Film

So, a few weeks ago I reread Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and as usual, watched as many film versions as I could to compare. I'm actually still working my way through the dozen-plus versions available on Netflix.

Most productions, whether live action or animated, treat them as children's stories. Usually they are colorful and humorous. Even SyFy's Alice and the 2010 Johnny Depp version, while aimed at adults, were still basically fantasy adventures meant to capture Carroll's wacky imagination.

Then there is the 1966 BBC television play.

This was a black and white live action production with no special effects at all. There are no talking animals or animated objects, just people in Victorian costume. It treats Alice's adventures in Wonderland as a grim parody of Victorian upper class society. Alice wanders through a world of irrational, nonsensical adults with a thousand-yard stare and a constantly aggrieved tone of voice.

But the BBC play is nowhere near as creepy as the nightmare-fuel that is Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer's Alice (1988).

This is an art-house film full of stop-motion animation in which stuffed animals pop eyes and springs and dismember each other with scissors, a maniacal White Rabbit leaks sawdust guts, and Alice is assaulted by animated skeletons. Weird, weird, weird, and probably not something you want young children to watch, unless you hate them.

They are both worth watching for their radically different artistic interpretations, but in terms of pacing, they both drag at times. They are also probably not the sort of productions you want to watch if you're already in a depressed state of mind. On the other hand, I can't help thinking that they come closer to Lewis Carroll's vision than the cheerful musicals and cartoons. (Especially if you subscribe to the theory that Carroll was tripping acid.)
Tags: movies, netflix, reviews

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