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Jiri Trnka, Puppet Master
Short Films - Program One

$5 Weekend Matinee Admission or Free with Cambridge Public Library Card
  • Grandpa Planted a Beet (Zasadil dedek repu)

    Directed by Jiri Trnka.
    Czechoslovakia, 1945, DCP, color, 10 min.
    No dialogue.
    DCP source: Czech National Film Archive

A farmer finds himself with an unusually fertile bumper crop on his hands in Trnka’s first film, a charming hand-drawn adaptation of a Czech fairy tale that announced the director as an animation talent to rival Disney. The program also serves as a survey of animation techniques employed by the artist throughout his career.

  • The Animals and the Brigands (Zviratka a petrovsti)

    Directed by Jiri Trnka.
    Czechoslovakia, 1946, DCP, color, 8 min.
    Czech with English subtitles.
    DCP source: Czech National Film Archive

A rooster, a cat, and a goat meet a trio of ignoble characters deep in a night-shrouded forest in this hand-illustrated, Cannes prize-winning folktale, which showcases Trnka’s gift for evoking light and shadow.

  • Merry Circus (Vesely cirkus)

    Directed by Jiri Trnka.
    Czechoslovakia, 1951, 35mm, color, 12 min.
    No dialogue.
    Print source: Czech National Film Archive

Trnka brings to life a surrealist circus of tightrope-walking fish, musical monkeys, balancing bears, and high-flying acrobatics in this whimsical feat of cutout animation made in collaboration with leading Czech painters of the era.

  • The Gingerbread House (Pernikova chaloupka)

    Directed by Bretislav Pojar.
    Czechoslovakia, 1946, DCP, color, 8 min.
    Czech with English subtitles.
    DCP source: Czech National Film Archive

The Czech version of Hansel and Gretel receives a captivating, puppet-animated adaptation, featuring striking—and fittingly macabre—storybook imagery designed by Trnka and direction by his close colleague and animation heir, Bretislav Pojar.

  • Kutasek and Kutilka (Kutasek a Kutilka jak rano vstavali)

    Directed by Jiri Trnka.
    Czechoslovakia, 1954, DCP, color, 18 min.
    Czech with English subtitles.
    DCP source: Czech National Film Archive

How do you wake up a sleeping puppet? Made by Trnka in collaboration with actor and puppeteer Josef Pehr, this winsome mix of live action and puppet play is enchanting entertainment for the youngest of viewers.

  • Circus Hurvinek (Cirkus Hurvinek)

    Directed by Jiri Trnka and Stanislav Latal.
    Czechoslovakia, 1955, DCP, color, 23 min.
    Czech with English subtitles.
    DCP source: Czech National Film Archive

Trnka pays homage to two of Czechoslovakia’s most beloved characters—Spejbl and the mischievous Hurvinek, a father-and-son duo created by Trnka’s puppeteer mentor, Josef Skupa—in this imaginative tale of a young boy who dreams of being part of the circus.

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