Jabberwocky, A Stop Motion Film by Jan Svankmajer

This stop motion version of the Carroll’s Jabberwocky by Czechoslovakian film-maker, Jan Svankmajer, (1971) is probably scarier than the Exorcist, (film, 1973). Precisely why is it scarier? Well, whilst in the Exorcist we have to use or let our imaginations do some work for us, to extend the illusion, this makes us do basically all of the work. We don’t identify with someone as a person in this film, it may be more like we identify with our own fears.

It’s a puzzle of sorts, you could analyse it to death, connect references and so on, which is a fantastically appropriate road to take with Lewis Carroll, but at the same time it relies, much as the poem itself does, on the feeling of discomfort, or the uncanny that comes when you couple sense with nonsense, or the known with the unknown. It is as if it makes sense in some third degree that contains this idea of the spiritual, the things we might know on a higher plane, but much like me reaching for the highest shelf in the kitchen, I just can’t. Or something debasing and illogical like that. The point is that illusions of nonsense or illusions of sense are basically the same thing, and they fuck with your mind just as hard.

I love the copulation of humour and the grotesque in this film, as I do the references to the poem and the novel “Alice in Wonderland” series itself. So much so that I tried to write a convincing philosophical dissertation on it! Ha! Well, perhaps stop motion doesn’t belong on this blog, but it’s my blog and I say it’s a sort of film puppetry and definitely belongs in the realms of illusions.


Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872) `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


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