Alice | Chicago Reader

Alice

Czech puppet animator Jan Svankmajer began making shorts in 1964, but not until 1988 was he able to realize his dream of a feature adapting Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. The world on the other side of Svankmajer's looking glass is hilariously macabre: taxidermy is the controlling metaphor, as a live-action Alice (Kristyna Kohoutova) descends an elevatorlike rabbit hole following a white rabbit that's broken out of its glass display case. She enters a subterranean house populated by bizarre creatures constructed from small animals—mammal skulls top off bird or reptile torsos, and in one scene Alice is attacked by a shopping cart with bird wings and clawing feet. In a strange kitchen, nails sprout from a piece of bread and little skulls burst out of eggs and dash away. With its episodic structure, Carroll's story is the perfect vehicle for Svankmajer's dark, 30s-style surrealism.

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