First off, if the above quote is to be taken to heart, and this really is a film made for children, then frankly, if I ever have kids, I’ll make damn sure they never grow up in Czechoslovakia (or either of the two countries it is today). This is weird, in an incredibly unsettling way. If you’ve seen Disney’s take on Alice in Wonderland, and think you are prepared for what this one will have for you, boy are you in for a rough ride; Neco z Alenky is as far from Disney’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s book as a film could possibly get.
To the two or three of you in the world who don’t know the plot of Alice in Wonderland, I’ll keep it simple: Alice, a young girl, follows a White Rabbit down a rabbit hole into a fantasy land of illogical happenings and characters. So, what is Neko z Alenky about? Aside from the shortening of the plot by removing some of the chapters, this is pretty much a straight adaptation of the book. It’s just how it is adapted that’s the troubling part; instead of a “fantasy land”, the Wonderland in this film consists of a drab and dour household, and the action takes place in several of the rooms. Now, there is still the element of fantasy; Alice still shrinks and grows when she eats certain foods or drinks certain liquids, and the other characters are still around, but they’re created using stop-motion animation, and what looks like taxidermy animals, lending the whole thing an eerie air of realism, rather than the lofty sense of dream-like imagery the original book tried to convey. As for the film itself, aside from the stop-motion animation being really glitchy, it was pretty well made, save for a couple areas. For instance, it was kind of annoying that all of the sound and audio in the film had been added as foley in post-production, in that it was extremely noticeable, and it was a constant immersion breaker throughout the film. That, and the young girl playing Alice seems to have been directed to play it as cold and unemotional as possible; anti-acting, really. It fit with the mood of the film, but that didn’t change the fact that the mood of the film itself seemed to be the main issue with me.
For a film with such glowing reviews and a 100% on the TomatoMeter, I was expecting this to be a little more… enjoyable. It was certainly very good at what it was trying to do, but it was what it was trying to do and how it went about doing it that just wasn’t… well, enjoyable. It had no life, no love, no passion for the story; it really seemed like the filmmakers were just doing the film for the sake of doing it, and not for truly giving the world a different take on the Alice in Wonderland story. I can see how this was put on the list; it’s certainly a different experience than I am used to seeing in a fantasy film, I have to give it that. But frankly, I’m just glad I won’t have any real reason to ever watch this one again, since I don’t intend to.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10