Wednesday 7 February 2018

bratři v triku

Active from 1945 to 1965, influential Czech illustrator and animator Jiří Trnka was heralded as the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe for his manner of storytelling that drew on classic folktales but his distinctive stop-motion short films were allegories intended for adult audiences and a vehicle for satire.  Trnka found two partners and started an animation studio called Bratři v Triku (Brothers in Tricks) and eventually discovered his style, returning to the puppets that he used to entertain friends and family in his childhood.
Their early productions received international acclaim, recognised at the Cannes and Venice film festivals and Trnka managed to skirt the censors with messages that were mild to pointed rebukes of the Communist government. In his final years, however, Trnka’s output became more cynical and bolder in challenging the regime. His crowning achievement—and sadly his last work, dying four years later and banned as subversive after his death—was a short called Ruka (The Hand), which depicts a potter commissioned unwillingly to sculpt a likeness of the all-powerful Hand. Despite being pressured and plied awards and commendations, the potter views this as an unwelcome imposition (he’d rather be left to craft pots for his friends the flowers) turning into persecution as the Hand won’t relent. The potter escapes briefly and runs back home, tossing off his burden of medals and tries to barricade himself in his closet but as he does so, a flowerpot crashes down on his head—killing him. The Hand, afterward, holds a pompous funeral for the potter just as Trnka’s native Plzeň honoured him with a large public event. Only posthumously censored, The Hand may have been a prelude of the Prague Spring of 1968 and signal of a gradual socio-political thawing in the East.