“Alice (Něco z Alenky)” is a 1988 surrealist dark fantasy film based on the children’s novel by Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865). Written and directed by Jan Švankmajer, an animation artist and filmmaker born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It is Švankmajer’s feature-length film debut.
Its original Czech title “Něco z Alenky” means “Something from Alice”.
It was produced by combining live action with stop-motion animation. All the main characters are puppets or dolls except for Kristýna Kohoutová, the girl who played the role of Alice.
It was a co-production among Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and West Germany. 86 minutes.
When Alice is bored in a room, a stuffed White Rabbit in a glass case suddenly starts moving. The White Rabbit wears a tuxedo, breaks the glass, and goes out, constantly checking the time on his pocket watch.
The White Rabbit disappears into a desk drawer in the wilderness. Alice also jumps into the desk drawer, following the White Rabbit, and she wanders into a strange world where non-living objects move around like living things.
When Alice drinks ink from a bottle, she transforms into a small doll, and when she eats a tart, she returns to her original appearance. Alice and the White Rabbit chase one another while Alice repeatedly gets bigger or smaller.
The White Rabbit mistakes Alice for his housemaid and commands her to bring his scissors from his house. Alice goes into the house of the White Rabbit and finds scissors, but she barricades herself inside the house. With his strange companions like animal skeletons, the White Rabbit tries to force her out of his house. Alice escapes from the house.
The White Rabbit confines Alice in a storage room filled with specimen jars, but she finds the key and escapes from the room.
Alice enters a room where sock-caterpillars are crawling on the floor. The White Rabbit appears from a desk drawer in the room. The White Rabbit takes the scissors on the desk, and disappears into the desk drawer.
Alice comes to a room where a wooden marionette Hatter and a clockwork March Hare hold a tea party. The Hatter mechanically repeats a set of actions: moving to the next seat after drinking up a cup of tea. The March Hare butters the pocket watches. The Hatter pulls the White Rabbit out from a hat.
Following the White Rabbit, Alice wanders into a paper garden like a set of a play. The Queen of Hearts, who is a flat paper, and a troop of playing cards come to the garden. Two of the Jacks of the troop begin a sword fight with each other. The Queen commands the White Rabbit to behead the Jacks, and he beheads the two with his scissors.
The Queen invites Alice to play croquet. Alice plays croquet, but the mallets and balls turn into live-action chickens and hedgehogs.
Alice is put on trial for eating the Queen’s tarts. In the courtroom, the King and the Queen sentence Alice to death, and demand her head be cut off.
“Alice” is a film like a nightmare, in which Švankmajer, who is a surrealist, adapted and visualized Lewis Carroll’s original novel as an absurdist fiction through his own spooky and grotesque worldview. Though it is not a film for everyone, it is a strangely fascinating film like a mixture of pleasure and unpleasure.
The film won the feature film award at the 1989 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.