Trnka established his reputation as a world-renowned master of puppet animation with his Venice prize-winning first feature, a kinetic visual symphony bursting with music and dance that celebrates the customs and folklore of the Czech people. Composed of six short episodes—the last of which, Bethlehem, was Trnka’s first-ever attempt at puppet animation—it traces one year in a country village through the town’s traditions, from springtime festivities to feasts to fairs to Christmas-night rituals. Trnka’s extraordinary puppet work is a marvel to behold in this new digital restoration by the Czech National Film Archive, but equally impressive is his mastery of the cinematic language, with rhythmic montage editing and swooping camera movements creating a whirling dervish sense of dynamism. New digital restoration.
Trnka reached new heights of modernist abstraction with this innovative, surrealist mini-masterwork, which critic Jean-Pierre Coursodon praised as the Citizen Kane of animation.