Pandora Cinematheque – Alma

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An innocent young girl discovers a strange and mysterious toy shop with a curiously familiar doll in the window…

This 2009 film draws on many fairy tale themes when the unassuming young child is lured into the toy-shop – most notably Hansel and Gretel, however in this case the ‘villain’ is nowhere to be seen and the trap resets itself automatically. The ‘candy’ bait is a representation of herself and proves irresistible to the tenacious Alma. It is a contemporary witches den complete with dendrous forest-like windows, branch-like tables and chairs and creaking noises from deep within the shop.

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When Alma touches the simulacrum of herself, she becomes trapped inside the doll itself, and suddenly the chalk names on the wall outside, as well as the hundreds of dolls lining the shelves take on a more sinister air. The dolls themselves wear fashions identifiable from many historical periods giving a creepy chronological depth, and glass eyes turning in the sockets reveal the hundreds of other adolescent prisoners. In addition, the captured essence of the child is reinforced in the title: ‘Alma’ means ‘soul’ in Spanish.

The director Rodrigo Blaas cut his teeth in animation during a lengthy period with Pixar, and since the film’s debut, Guillermo Del Toro, continuing his current tenure with Dreamworks, has expressed strong interest in a feature length adaptation for the piece, with Blaas continuing his directorial role and Del Toro as executive producer. 2014 brought the announcement that the film lay in ‘visualization stage’.


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