Neco z Alenky's "Alice" (1988) adds an interesting twist to the history of versions of Alice in Wonderland. The Czech film features a little girl among a cast of stop-motion creatures. The pace is very slow, and the overall mood is dark and drab, rather than the typical "let's imagine a lush and beautiful fanciful land for Alice to dream up." The white rabbit is a toy that comes to life-he is made of sawdust, which falls out every time he takes out his watch, and some scenes feature him eating sawdust out of a bowl, which I thought was cute. The caterpillar is made of socks. Everything is more grounded in reality. There is no music, which adds to the slowness. Each spoken line is followed by a close-up of Alice's mouth saying "said the White Rabbit" or "cried Alice," which gets a bit tiring (especially when watching the English version, where the lips and words don't match up.) Some props are more morbid-other animal characters are played by animal skeletons.
Isn't that a great image?
Alice has a doll of herself-with blonde hair and a matching dress. When she shrinks down to small sizes, she turns into the doll. The movie features famous Alice scenes, like the mad tea party, but also more obscure ones, like when the baby turns into a pig.
Now, some reviewers called it entirely true to the book, or more what Lewis Carroll intended when he wrote the book. I disagree. I like this interpretation, although to be honest, because it's so slow and repetitive, it's not one I'd watch again and again. But the tone I always got from the book was pure, lighthearted humor (not to mention a fast pace). This movie has very little humor and fixates on the bizarre factors. Those who thought this version was the most authentic were probably going on the assumption that Carroll was on opium when writing it. I don't know enough to comment on that, although I read a book about him once that was all about his love of riddles. He made lots of riddles, and the Alice books are full of hidden riddles-for example, "Through the Looking Glass" follows an actual chess game and the books shows you the moves each character makes. So I think it would be hard to do that type of thing while on drugs. However, evidence does point to him being perhaps a bit too intimate with little girls.
The film also adds imagery that was not necessarily emphasized in the books: drawers, scissors, and repetition. I can't say I understand the significance of those images. So the movie is worth a watch for Alice fans, but don't go out and buy the dvd.