Rembrandt Communications • Rembrandt Animation • Rembrandt Video Productions
Puppet Films of Jiri Trnka
Many people consider Jirí Trnka the greatest puppet animator the world has ever seen. This Czech master directed some of the most acclaimed animated films ever made. He continues to astound audiences, particularly those not familiar with his work. In 1966, four years before his death, Newsday lauded him as “second to Chaplin as a film artist because his work inaugurated a new stage in a medium long dominated by Disney.”
This was Trnka's last, and some say greatest, film. An artist, happy in his life, devotes his time making a pot for his favorite flower. But a giant hand appears and orders him to create a statue of a hand instead. He resists at first, but the hand is all powerful and he is forced to submit, at the cost of his liberty and ultimately his life. This darkly humorous allegory on totalitarianism, which won the top prize at the Annecy International Animation Festival, was banned in Communist Czechoslovakia.
Story of the Bass Cello
Chekhov's story about a bass player whose clothes are stolen while he's bathing in a river. When he happens upon a beautiful maiden in the same predicament, he hides her in the case of his large double-bass.
Neither a puppet film nor a cartoon, but an entirely unique means of expression and technique. Made from stop action photography of paper cutouts, the movement in this film, whether it's juggling seals or acrobats flying through the air, is magical.
This brief documentary offers a glimpse of Trnka’s genius. Includes clips of him working on his puppets and excerpts from such films as Grandpa Planted a Beet, The Czech Year, Prince Bayaya and The Good Soldier Schweik.
A Drop Too Much
The tragic tale of a motorcyclist who, happily on his way to meet his fiancée, stops at a tavern with disastrous consequences. Trnka was the art director on this early warning against drunk driving.
Song of the Prairie
Another Trnka masterpiece, a parody of the wild American West, where the pistol rules the roost, timidity has no place, and love blossoms at first sight.
This English version, featuring a narration by Boris Karloff, has been digitally remastered. It is a puppet animation classic based on the Hans Christian Anderson story about how the song of a simple nightingale teaches an Emperor to revolt against the rigid protocol of his glittering but shallow world. When released recently on home video, the Washington Post called it "a lost classic happily found again" and Wired magazine “one of the most stunningly beautiful animated films ever released" and "a masterpiece of filmmaking and a production that elevates the art form to new heights.”