Puppet animation is a traditional Czech art form, of which Jiří Trnka became the undisputed master. Most of his movies were intended for adults and many were adaptations of literary works. Špalíček (The Czech Year), also called A Treasury of Fairy-Tales, is a 1947 stop-motion-animated feature film from Czechoslovakia.
It was a defining moment for Trnka because he won several international awards three years running across Europe and this his name became famous in the animation world.
Because of his influence in animation, he was also called “the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe”, despite the great differences between their works.
Špalíček, tells of six separate folk tales of Czech life: “Shrovetide”, “Spring”, “Legend About St. Prokop”, “The Fair”, “The Feast” and “Bethlehem”. Shared in this amazing treasure of a film are the disappearing traditional customs and tales of a Czech folk village, depicted in the six separate (and beautiful) sequences as seen in some photographs below.
Enjoy, and make sure to look at the little Czech details in each one (like Czech rye bread, the pottery, details on and in the homes, the outfits, vánočka, mushrooms, pig slaughters (zabijačka), koláče…)
It was 75 minutes long and there’s been talk of it coming to DVD for years – but thus far, nothing except a reference to Amazon Japan where it is supposedly in full on the first volume of Jiri Trnka Film Works DVD collection. (Yes, it’s on our wishlist!)
A pleasant surprise in the film is that much of it is sung and not spoken, do you get to hear the folk songs as well as living through the seasons. Music by Václav Trojan.
If you are a fan of Trnka, as we are – make sure to watch The Hand on the page/post we created for that very special film.