In connection with the current tour of THE PUPPET MASTER film series and Carlos Valladares’ article about Jiří Trnka we present short films about the stop motion animator.
A 1967 Czech TV short about Trnka
by Carlos Valladares
Jean Cocteau said of Jiří Trnka, the Czech animator and puppeteer, that the very name conjures up childhood and poetry. Note the “and”—childhood and poetry, la poésie de l’enfance, which Trnka treats with the depth and respect those oft-belittled years merit. We are only too quick to gloss over our fanciful kid dreams, our stumbling attempts to use simple words to convey huge emotions which we spend our adult trying to refine and intellectualize and know, know, boringly know.
Trnka, by contrast, was a seer, a dweller. He dwelled in youth, dwelled in the crevices of language before social and linguistic codes are mastered (most of his films’ narratives lose you along the way, and that’s when you know they’re working). His magic is the magic of the slow burn, the way the worlds of imperial China or a rose-wrapped Greek forest unfurl before your childlike eyes with a responsible contempt for the straight-edged story-line. Trnka’s gift—the gift, also, of Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, François Truffaut, Demy in Donkey Skin mode, the late Stephen Hillenburg, and other bards of childhood—was to give kids what they most needed for maturity, a truthful artifice wrapped in a lived-in melancholy and wistfulness, and to make jaded adults see as simply as their kids again.