Pages

18 April 2015

Špalíček (1947)

Puppet animation is a traditional Czech art form, of which Jiří Trnka (1912-1969) was the undisputed master. In 1947, Trnka made his first feature, the puppet film Špalíček/The Czech Year. It was a defining moment for Trnka as he won several international awards across Europe in the next three years.


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-1. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-3. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-4. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-5. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-7. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-10. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-14. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-16. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-20. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-22. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-30. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. D-107-36. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).

Full of Life


In the fall of 1946 Jiří Trnka first considered puppet animation films, and began to experiment with the help of Břetislav Pojar. The result was his first feature film Špalíček/The Czech Year (1947), based on a book illustrated by Mikoláš Aleš.

Špalíček tells six separate folk tales of Czech life: Shrovetide, Jaro (Spring), The legend of St. Procopius (Legenda or svatem Prokopu), The Fair, The Feast and Bethlehem.

Professor-x at IMDb: "Like most of Trnka's work, the puppet designs are simple, but full of life. Spalicek doesn't have the same refinement of Trnka's later work, but is wonderful as his first big foray into puppet animation.

A great deal of story information is sung and spoken rather than acted. Still, there are great bits of animation, visuals, and music to keep things somewhat interesting."


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-298-9. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-299-2. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).


Czech postcard by Orbis, no. 10-299-6. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947). Retro: radostne vanoce a mnoho uspechu v novem roce (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).

The Walt Disney of Eastern Europe


After graduating from the Prague School of Arts and Crafts, Jiří Trnka created a puppet theatre in 1936. This group was dissolved when World War II began, and he instead designed stage sets and illustrated books for children throughout the war.

In the immediate wake of World War II, Trnka founded Bratři v triku (Brothers in Tricks) with fellow animators Eduard Hofman and Jiří Brdečka. This studio, dedicated to the production of traditional, hand-drawn animation, lives on today.

Most of his films were intended for adults and many were adaptations of literary works. These included feature length covering working-class traditions and national heroes, such as Bajaja/Prince Bayaya (1950), and Staré povesti ceské/Old Czech Legends (1953). For Dobry vojak Svejk/The Good Soldier Svejk (1955), he adapted the classic anti-war satire Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek.

In addition to his extensive career as a puppet-maker, motion-picture animator and film director, Jiří Trnka is best known for his work as an illustrator, especially of children's books.

Especially famous are his illustrations for the tales of the Brothers Grimm, as well as collections of folktales from Czech authors such as Jirí Horák and Jan Pálenícek. Trnka also illustrated the tales of H.C. Andersen and Charles Perrault, the fables of Jean de La Fontaine, The Thousand and One Nights, several works of William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Throughout his life, he illustrated 130 works of literature. In 1968, he received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustrators, recognizing his career contribution to children's literature.

Most of his films were intended for adults and many were adaptations of literary works. Because of his influence in animation, he was called 'the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe', despite the great differences between their works.


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-01. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-0-3. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-03. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by ODEON, no. 10-427/VIII-K-0-5. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-08. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by ODEON, no. 10-427/VIII-O-12. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-10. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-11. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-12. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-13. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-14. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-15. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-16. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-18. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by KLU, no. 10-427-K-22. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).


Czech postcard by ODEON, no. 10-550-X-0-6. Photo: publicity still for Špalíček/The Czech Year (Jiri Trnka, 1947).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

No comments: