Alice in Wonderland
In this little-seen adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, Lou Bunin blends live-action with stop-motion animation to adapt the Carroll original, forty-years before Jan Svankmajer would do the same. A prologue finds Alice and her sisters boating in Oxford with whimsical mathematician Charles Dodgson (better-known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll) with a royal visit as a backdrop, rooting Carroll’s anthropomorphic fantasy in a real, Victorian milieu. An innovator of puppet animation, the American-born Bunin worked with Diego Rivera as a muralist before turning to cinema. Shot in two languages, English and French, across three cities—Nice, Paris, and London—the film boasts a formidable crew, many of whom would soon after the completion of the film be blacklisted: cinematographer Claude Renoir, composer Sol Kaplan, and screenwriters Henry Myers and Edward Eliscu.
Bunin’s film was plagued with complications. Denied color stock from Technicolor, Bunin settled on the inferior Ansco process. Once completed, the film was held from release due to a lawsuit from Disney. When it was finally set for distribution in 1951, theater chains wouldn’t book it in deference to the Disney adaptation, and it was subsequently banned in England for more than thirty years due to its depiction of Queen Victoria. A true rarity, the film was largely unseen until the mid-1980s and is once again available in 35mm thanks to a restoration by the Museum of Modern Art.
Restored 35mm print!
Followed by Brothers Quay shorts:
Are We Still Married?
1992/b&w/4 min. | New 35mm print!
Identical twins born in Pennsylvania but long based in London, the Brothers Quay belong in the lineage of groundbreaking stop-motion animators that also includes Vladislav Starevich, Lou Bunin, and Jan Svankmajer. Commissioned as a music video for a dream-pop single by the band His Name is Alive, this Alice variation stars a ragged doll in striped socks, a white rabbit, and a manic ping-pong ball in a hypnotic reverie.
1991/color/18 min. | New 35mm print!
The Brothers Quay enter the mind of a sleeping woman, burrow into her dreams, and reveal a labyrinthine playhouse haunted by a doll-like explorer. Based on a fragment of text by the Austrian writer Robert Walser, this blend of live-action and stop-motion animation is a sensuous and mesmerizing vision of the unconscious.
Bing Theater | $10 for the general public, $7 for LACMA members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID; $5 LACMA Film Club members and Cinefamily members | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online.