The first puppet kinescope in the world. It is based on the famous poetic comedy by William Shakespeare. Three worlds meet in this story: the noble world of three Athens couples, a common ...
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Excellent stop-motion animation film from one of the best Czech filmmakers, Jirí Trnka. It tells the ancient story of Czechoslovakia, how it was founded by Czech, the Forefather, and a ... See full summary »
A happy little potter is approached by a huge hand which wants him to sculpt its statue. The potter refuses, wanting nothing more than to be left alone with his only friend, a potted plant.... See full summary »
In a Carpathian village, Ivan falls in love with Marichka, the daughter of his father's killer. When tragedy befalls her, his grief lasts months; finally he rejoins the colorful life around... See full summary »
Husband (senior ministry official) and wife find their house is riddled with listening devices put there by his own ministry. A harrowing night follows (reminiscent of 'Who's Afraid Of ... See full summary »
Bayaya, a young peasant, protected by the spirit of his dead mother, arrives at the castle of the King, where he entertains his three daughters. He soon realizes that the three princesses ... See full summary »
A lonely young boy idolizes his local priest. An old acquaintance of the priest shows up one day, and the boy learns that his idol isn't exactly what he seems to be--it turns out that many ... See full summary »
The first puppet kinescope in the world. It is based on the famous poetic comedy by William Shakespeare. Three worlds meet in this story: the noble world of three Athens couples, a common popular world of tradesmen amateur theatre and a fairy-tale happiness of magic creatures as elves and nymphs. The film is considered the most remarkable Jirí Trnka's work and a milestone in the history of the world animation. Written by
Alas, the version I saw was not the one listed here - with narration by Richard Burton and voices dubbed by luminaries of the Royal Shakespeare Company - but an alternative one with a very cloying woman (uncredited, and deservedly so!) who tells the whole story in voiceover. The result was less 'William Shakespeare Presents' than 'Tales for Toddler Time.' Frankly, I don't know why they bothered with narration at all, as Trnka's animation is so magically vivid as to make words superfluous.
In fact, this film is a masterpiece of visual storytelling - a reminder of just how wondrous animation can be when it doesn't insult a viewer's intelligence a la Walt Disney. Indeed, it's surprisingly adult at times. A randy goat (under the influence of magic love potion) tries to rape the fairy Puck. The two runaway lovers, Hermia and Lysander, slip into an eerily vulva-shaped cave to consummate their love. Strange, then, that Trnka cuts out the story's gay element - the desire of the Fairy King Oberon for the changeling boy. Perhaps that was more than Communist-era censors could take.
Otherwise, this is an exemplary reading of the text. Jiri Trnka's visualisation of the Enchanted Forest - every inch of it swathed in moonlight and dripping with rose petals, fairy wings, spying owls - rivals the Baroque splendours of the 1935 Max Reinhardt film. Even the amateur actors' performance of 'Pyramus and Thisbe' (an irksome comic interlude in most stagings) is transformed by Puck's magic into a heart-soaring experience. A must for anyone who loves Shakespeare - or, more important, anyone who doesn't - this is one dream you won't want to wake up from!
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