- Jiří Trnka
Trnka proved himself to be a master animator from the very beginning, as evidenced by the formally inventive, wittily offbeat works in this program, which includes the filmmaker’s earliest experiments in the art form: a modernist tour-de-force of surrealist invention and a 2D/collage combo that’s an anti-Nazi lampoon. Complete line-up follows:
- The Gift/Dárek (1946, 15 mins)
Trnka reached new heights of modernist abstraction with this innovative, surrealist mini-masterwork, which critic Jean-Pierre Coursodon likened to the Citizen Kane of animation.
Springman and the SS/Pérák a SS (1946, 13 mins)
Trnka combines 2D and collage animation to striking effect in this zanily offbeat, anti-Nazi lampoon, which crosses Max Fleischer-like absurdism with a biting satirical edge. His first collaboration with Jiří Brdečka.
- Song of the Prairie/Arie prerie (1949, 20 mins)
One of Trnka’s most delightfully silly efforts is a slapstick spoof of John Ford’s Stagecoach and Hollywood singing cowboy Westerns based on a popular novel by Jiří Brdečka, who would later direct his own adaptation, the cult favorite Lemonade Joe.
- Merry Circus/Veselý cirkus (1951, 12 mins)
Trnka brings to life a surrealist circus of tightrope-walking fish, musical monkeys, balancing bears, and high-flying acrobatics in this whimsical feat of cut-out animation made in collaboration with leading Czech painters of the era. No dialogue.
- The Good Soldier Svejk, Part III/Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka part III (1954, 29 mins)
This riotous anti-authoritarian satire—based on the scathingly funny, hugely influential anti-war classic of Czech literature—charts the exploits of a hapless World War I infantryman with biting, subversive wit.
Cosponsored with the Cornell Institute for European Studies.
The touring retrospective THE PUPPET MASTER: THE FILMS OF JIŘÍ TRNKA is produced by Comeback Company, originated at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Curated by Irena Kovarova. Films provided by the Czech National Film Archive.