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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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 »
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 »
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
A handsome and successful young doctor returns to his home town in New England to see his dying friend for one last time. However, his friend wants to die because he is suffering so much ... 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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