Thursday, October 25, 2012

Staré pověsti české / Old Czech Legends

[Vanhoja tshekkiläisiä taruja]. CZ 1952. PC: Studio Kresleného a Loutkového Filmu. EX: Vladimír Janovský, Jaroslav Možiš. D+design: Jiří Trnka. SC: Jiří Trnka, Jiří Brdečka, Miloš Kratochvil – based on the works of Alois Jirásek (1894) and K. Kosma. DP: Ludvík Hájek, Emanuel Franek - Agfacolor. AN (moving of the dolls): Břetislav Pojar (gentle Neklan, Princess Libussa), Bohuslav Šrámek (Přemysl, Bivoj), Zdeněk Hrabě (dancers), Stanislav Látal (Kresomysl; a drunken page), Jan Karpaš (dancers), Josef Kluge, František Braun. M: Václav Trojan. Orchestra: FISYO, conductor: Otakar Pařik – chorister:  Jan Kühn. S: Josef Zavadil-Poledník, Emanuel Formánek. ED: Helena Lebdusková. Voice talent: Karel Höger, Eduard Kohout, Růžená Naskova, Zdeněk Štepánek, Václav Vydra. 2470 m / 90 min. This movie was not released in Finland. Print from Národní filmový archiv (Prague), electronic subtitles in Finnish by Tomas Lehecka. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Jiří Trnka), 25 Oct 2012.

A puppet animation epic based on legends and myths about the origins of the Czech people as told by Alois Jirásek inspired by the national romanticism of the 19th century, like Kalevala in Finland and Kalevipoeg in Estonia.

There is a fine mood, simultaneously droll and grand, as steam rises from the pot and the storyteller plays on his harp, telling about (1) the founding father called Čech who brought his people to the shores of Elbe and Moldau. (2) After Čech the ruler is Krok who builds a castle on the Moldau and who has three daughters, of which Libuše / Libussa is the most highly regarded. (3) Bivoj is the supreme hunter able to catch a huge wild boar single-handedly. (4) The wise Libuše becomes the new leader, but her matriarchy faces fierce opposition. She withdraws into the sacred forest and sees into the future. (5) During the reign of Přemysl the maidens are longing bitterly for the matriarchy of Libuše. Mining flourishes, farming deteriorates: there are thistles instead of grain. (6) The people rises against the atrocities of the Lucanians, and there is a giant battle to defeat them.

This movie belongs to the heroic-patriotic line in Jiří Trnka oeuvre, but thanks to the droll humour and the fantastic images there is never a sense of an overbearing message. Rather this movie is a proud statement from a small and original nation. Memorable visions include: - magnificent primal landscapes in the beginning - the introduction of the forest animals (birds, buffaloes, foxes, wild boars, roe-deer) - the water nymph, the water spirit hovering around the baby on the field where the parents are harvesting - Perun, the thunder god: the village on fire - the eagles spreading their wings on the sky - the longest day of the year (Midsummer): the bonfires to celebrate the Sun God - the full moon and the smoke signals on mountain tops - atavistic dances and visions from the most ancient times - the furious war - the peaceful reconstruction, the celebration of fertility after the war.

Václav Trojan's impressive score is important for this movie, inspired in its retro-national-romantic approach.

The visual quality of the print is mostly excellent.

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