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The Emperor's Nightingale
(Cisaruv slavik)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jiri Trnka and Milos Makovec.
Czechoslovakia, 1948, 35mm, color, 72 min.
No dialogue.

Trnka’s adaptation of a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale is an enchanting animated jewel box. Framed by live-action sequences—about a lonely boy shut away from fun and play—the story unfolds as a child’s dream vision, a tale of illusion versus reality in which a Chinese emperor is ensorcelled first by the song of a nightingale, then by its mechanical replica. Working in a rich red, green, and gold visual palette, Trnka conjures a hallucinatory storybook world of moonlit bamboo forests, softly glowing Chinese lanterns, and bursting fireworks displays all set to a gorgeous, rhapsodic score by his key collaborator, Vaclav Trojan.

PRECEDED BY

  • The Devil’s Mill (Certuv mlyn)

    Directed by Jiri Trnka.
    Czechoslovakia, 1949, 35mm, color, 20 min.
    No dialogue.

A barrel organ grinder meets the devil on a mysterious moonlit night in this haunted-house fable, which showcases Trnka’s atmospheric use of sound to conjure a macabre mood.

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Jiri Trnka, Puppet Master

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.