Sunday, 4 October 2009

Jiri Trnka - Filmmaker

In my previous post I talked about Jiri Trnka's wonderful book illustrations, but he is probably (rightly) better known as a maker of stop-frame animated films. One of my favourites is shown above - The Hand, (click on the arrow to watch the video). Trnka is perhaps better known for his adapatation of A Midsummer's Night's Dream or the Hans Christian Anderson story The Emperor's Nightingale, but this, his last film, shows the power of puppets and animation in the hands of a master to speak of important things. The film is a powerful allegory on totalitarianism and the artist, it is sad but amusing. Perhaps the best indication of its power is the fact that it was banned by the then Communist government.

When we first visited Prague, my husband, son and I went to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Trade Fair Palace. This is a gallery that is often missed by tourists. It is slightly off the visitors' beaten path and I don't think people from the western part of Europe and the US really appreciate the importance of the contribution made by Czech artists to modern art, we certainly didn't before we went through the doors of the Trade Fair Palace. One of the great things about the museum is that it mixes applied and high arts, hence there is a section devoted to Trnka, including a set from one of his films. It was one of the highlights of the museum for us, especially for our son. Now years later our son is in his final year at film school and over the summer vacation a set was built on our dining room table. Jiri Trnka was partly responsible for that.

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