Jan Svankmajer's Alice Released On Bluray DVD

‘Alice’, Jan Svankmajer’s 1988 adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s literary classic Alice in Wonderland will finally be released on Dual-Format DVD by BFI on the 23rd of May this year. It’s taken far too long for this brilliant example of the Czech surrealist’s finest work to make it to DVD.

Combining a live-action Alice with a Wonderland filled with threatening stop-motion characters, Svankmajer’s deliberately crude style of animation, use of close-ups, and rich design work lend the film a pervading sense of unease and a menacing dream-logic which marries a sly visual wit with piercing psychological insight.

The film is presented on the Bluray/DVD with the original Czech sound track with optional English subtitles. This is the first time ever the film has been released in either the UK or the USA to feature the original soundtrack with previous releases featuring a familiar English dub created for channel 4.

Included as extras on the DVD are five short Alice-themed films. No additional shorts by Jan Svankmajer have been included as ‘Alice’ is currently the only piece to have been converted to HD. There is however a standard quality DVD release of Jan Svankmajer’s short films also issued by BFI. The five films included are:

- ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1903), the recent BFI restoration of the only surviving print of the first ever screen adaptation.
- ‘Elsie and the Brown Bunny’ (1921), an eight-minute ad for Cadbury's Chocolate that was heavily inspired by Lewis Carroll.
- ‘Alice in Label Land’ (1974), a witty government-sponsored animation using Alice in Wonderland characters to explain 1970s food labelling regulations.
- ‘Are We Still Married?’ (1992) and ‘Can't Go Wrong Without You’ (1993), the Quay Brothers' strongly Alice-influenced music videos for His Name Is Alive.

I’m almost looking forward to seeing some of these extras just as much as the main feature itself. I’m a huge Quay Brothers’ fan.

Hopefully BFI will follow this release with more of Svankmajer’s classics receiving a HD treatment. I’d love to see ‘Faust’ finally get a release on DVD in the UK, I’m still having to make do with an old VHS copy in my collection.

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