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Czech film production for children

photo:  (sxc.hu)

Film production aimed primarily at children and teenagers has had a long history and tradition in our country. In addition, it is often very successful. Czech films in this category are often celebrated and awarded at prestigious international film festivals. Feature films, puppet films, animated cartoons or serial stories – the Czech production of films for children has a lot to offer to young filmgoers and viewers.

Even a glimpse of film history would tell you that Czech filmmakers have won children’s hearts from the very beginning. Let’s name, for example, Jiří Trnka, nicknamed by the period reviewers as the “Walt Disney of the East”. His puppet films won numerous international awards.

Without doubt, we should not leave out films made by Karel Zeman with technically perfect special effects. One of his best-known films is Cesta do pravěku (Journey to Prehistory), made in 1955. This work, which stunned the world that year, became also the best film in the children’s category at the International Film Festival in Venice. Zeman’s next film, made in 1958 – Vynález zkázy (The Fabulous World of Jules Verne) – was based on Verne’s famous novel. It is considered the most successful Czech film ever. Immediately after its release, it was bought by 72 countries worldwide, and in New York alone, it was on the programme in 96 cinemas at the same time! What is more, the film won the main award at the World Film Festival accompanying the 1958 EXPO in Brussels.

One of the phenomena of Czech cinematography is a fairytale serial. Both children and adults in many countries around the world still remember Arabela, a serial created by two Czech screenwriters, Miloš Macourek and Václav Vorlíček, and Návštěvníci (Visitors), a cult sci-fi serial story directed by Jindřich Polák and coproduced by German TV.

Jindřich Polák was also successful with other children’s films as well. His elegant gentleman in a black suit with a white carnation in the lapel, with a magic bowler hat and a black umbrella, named Pan Tau (Mr. Tau), has become a legend. The first part of the film serial, a silent film, was shot in 1966. Later two more series and five feature films were added. Among other popular serial stories, were for example, a story of a little girl and two little figures created of plasticine – Ferda and Ferda, who featured in a serial and then in a full-length film called Lucie postrach ulice (Lucy the Scare of the Street) and in the sequel … a zase ta Lucie! (Lucy, Again!).

We cannot leave aside the fairytale Tři oříšky pro popelku (Three Nuts for Cinderella) released in 1973 but still very popular in Russia, France, Norway and many other European countries. It was coproduced by the already mentioned German TV, the music was composed by Karel Svoboda and the guiding song, Kdepak ty ptáčku hnízdo máš, was sang by Karel Gott. To recall more of the full-length fairytales, there are, for example: O princezně Jasněnce a létajícím ševci (Jasněnka the Princess and the Flying Cobbler), Princezna ze mlejna (The Princess from the Mill) or Z pekla štěstí (Helluva Good Luck). All three were directed by Zdeněk Troška.

For an overview of the most famous Czech fairytale film stories click here.
Author: Petra Hubálková
Added: 23.09.2010

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