Karel Zeman was a much loved film director who was born in the Czech village of Ostroměř. Besides his work directing films, Zeman was also a production designer, artist, and animator. Because of his amazing skills at animating, many of the films he made combined real footage with his own animation, ending up in what the viewers saw in the end as a very magically told story.
His films are of great pride to the Czech people and his unique style has inspired and influenced many famous artists and filmmakers, including Terry Gilliam. Therefore, you’ll probably find it hard to believe that making movies was not Zeman’s original career plan.
In the 30’s, Zeman was working in France at an advertising firm when he was asked to make an animated commercial for a soap brand. It was then that he got his first taste of what would later become his passion and full-time career. Later in his life, he moved back to Czechoslovakia and met Elmar Klos (The Shop on Main Street) and decided to show Klos a few of his animations.
Klos was so impressed with his work that he offered Zeman a job at Zlin’s animation studio where he ended up working as the right hand man to the mother of Czech animation, Hermina Tyrlova.
Zeman loved fantasy, and adventure, and most of all, animation. He went on to create many beautiful films which incorporated those elements.
Some of Zeman’s most noted works are Journey to the Beginning of Time, The Stolen Airship, and The Fabulous World of Jules Verne. All of these are available for purchase on eBay and we recommend you watch each one.
You can read the post we wrote about the live theater version of The Fabulous World of Jules Verne here.
Though Zeman was an awesome artist and fantastic animator, many Americans (and even some Czechs) don’t even know his name. That’s why if you are a film, or even art lover in Prague, you have to make sure to stop by the Karel Zeman museum where you can find out more about his interesting beginning, and get a behind the scenes look of how he worked.
Walking into the museum is what I would imagine must be like taking a step into Zeman’s mind. Pictures, costumes, marionettes, ideas, and colorful designs line each and every corner of the rooms. Muzeum Karla Zemana is the best destination in Prague for people interested in animation or film directing.
Just minutes away from the Charles Bridge you can hop in and take a ride on a flying machine, pose with the moon, and learn about the history of the man behind the films.
To see more pictures and read about the Karel Zeman Museum in Prague click here!
Karel Zeman Museum
Saský dvůr – Saská 3, 118 00 Prague 1
Malá Strana next to the Charles Bridge