Apr 14, 2010

Walt Disney of the East- Stephen Bevilacqua

Jiri Trnka was consider to be Disney of the east. Through his provoctive puppet animation, Trnka became one of the most infulenical animators of our time. He graduated from the Prague School of Arts and Crafts. He created a puppet theater in 1936. This group was dissolved when World War 2 began, and he instead designed stage sets and illustrated books for children throughout the war. After the end of the war, Trnka started an animation unit at the Prague film studio. Trnka soon became very recognized as the world's greatest puppet animator in the traditional Czech method, and he won several awards including Cannes in 1959 and 1964 for Best Short. The last film Trnka work on earned him an BAFTA was RUKA (The Hand). It was a tragicomic story of a little man who hopes to make a flower-pot for his beloved flower and present hand that forces the man to create a portrait celebrating it. It is a horrifying protest against any violence restraining human freedom, emotions, creative force or life. It is one of the milestones of Czech and world animation. In 1984 the American Film Academy declared it the fifth best animated picture in history. Jaroslav Bocek, and admire of Trnka, points out

"Walt Disney had, in fact, dominated animated cartoons throughout the thirties. It was not only that the market was flooded with films from his own studios, but also that he had influenced the technique and style all over the world. A cartoon film was automatically thought of as a Disney film, and any work in Europe in this field was always along his lines….Then came Trnka and the Trick Brothers. Years later, Stephen Bosustow, the American critic, was to call Trnka ‘the first rebel against Disney’s omnipotence.’

Disney’s omnipotence had helped other animators to learn the basic elements of the craft. His cartoons had given them technique and skill. But what they lacked was a style and concept of their own. These Trnka was to supply in his very first film, made immediately after the war."

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