“Alice thought to herself, ‘Now you will see a film made for children. Perhaps. But I nearly forgot: you must close your eyes. Otherwise, you won’t see anything.’” — Jan Svankmajer’s Alice
When I was in college in Arizona, a friend of a friend had a screening of some films he had rented through the mail from Facets. Many years before that I had seen A Clockwork Orange (1971), Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), and other films that opened my eyes to the power of cinema. But it wasn’t until this screening in a small apartment in Flagstaff that I understood cinema as an art form. That evening, we watched the classic film, Mystery of Picasso (1956), and a contemporary work by Jan Svankmajer called Alice (1988).
Svankmajer’s surreal retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story was like nothing I had seen before. Part stop motion animation, part live action, this fantastical film was a dark alchemy of poetic beauty and sorcerer’s brew.
Art doll by dollings, $55.
What I love most about the work of Svankmajer — and that of his proteges, The Brothers Quay — is the use of ephemera and curiosities to animate their tales. Antiquated-looking toys, doll parts, skeleton keys, bones, and taxidermy infuse these surreal visions with an other worldly darkness that I personally find uncanny and riveting.
I am constantly on the lookout for unusual pieces that are dark and mysterious. Etsy’s Cabinet of Curiosities Team has an amazing array of shops that feature curios of the past. Whether it be old porcelain dolls or Victorian taxidermy, you can find everything you need for your own fantastical stop motion animation.
Odds and Ends Skeleton Key Trio by missemilygene, $45.
Old Sarah by Bella’s Atelier, $2,000.
What are the best Alice in Wonderland inspired items you’ve seen on Etsy? Leave a link in the comments below.