(1988)4.5Craig ButlerInspired by (but not a straight adaptation of) Lewis Carroll's classic Wonderland story, Alice is a dark, haunting, disturbing, and utterly brilliant film -- and one that is definitely not for children. The first full-length film by the irreplaceable Czeck animator/director Jan Svankmajer, Alice is filled with stunning visuals -- although, as with most of Svankmajer's work, these visuals do not always produce delight in the viewer; indeed, some of his images are revolting, but even those exert a strong fascination. Heavily steeped in surrealism -- from the film's self-narration to its dingily dazzling array of images -- Alice is as true an evocation of a dream as ever captured on film. As with many dreams, there's a heavy element of the sinister and the morbid running throughout, as the Mad Hatter comes across as genuinely insane, an innocent jar of jam reveals itself to contain nails, and Alice finds herself switching back and forth between her real self and a doll version of the same. Alice is not perfect; Svankmajer occasionally lingers too long on a sequence, and there are certainly many who will not buy into his vision. But on the whole, it is a unique and inspired cinematic experience.