|This year is the 100th anniversary of his birth|
Ladislas Starevich or Jiří Barta.
Often considered to be the Disney of the East, this title has been seen as offensive by critics, as Trnka has nothing in common with Walt Disney, except for the fact that they both did animations. However, Trnka’s audience was formed of adults and his messages were more serious and sometimes even political, in a world where expression was often censored.
As a child, Trnka helped his mother and grandmother with sewing, but was also a self-taught wood carver and loved drawing. At 11, he was already working at the theatre and later he enrolled in the popular School of Applied Arts in Prague. After he graduated, he did various illustrations for newspapers and directed a few theatrical plays, but also had success as a painter. Some of the assistant animators that worked with him recall his extraordinary dexterity as he was able to paint with both hands at the same time, but also made puppets from scratch as a child.
Trnka didn't like dialogue in his animation and often used the music of his friend, the Czech composer Vaclav Trojan as a way to help its characters express. It seems that sometimes he even changed some scenes so that they would fit the music of his friend.
There isn’t much information regarding Jiří Trnka life as he wasn't an outgoing artist and neither one that was obsessed with himself. He did art for his own pleasure and loved being immersed in the worlds he created, and perhaps that’s why he didn't care much about the outside world or writing an autobiography. His daughter remembers that when he worked only children were allowed in his studio and he always wanted to hear their criticism on his scenes. He loved what he was doing and he was a workaholic, sometimes working for a few days straight just to get a scene right.
During his life he received international recognition and won numerous awards, despite the fact that he was working within a country that had a communist regime.
The last Trnka short film, The Hand:
You can buy his work here:
The Puppet Film Of Jiri Tranka / Story Of The Bass Cello / The Song Of The Prairie / The Merry Circus / A Drop Too Much / The Hand / Starring: Helena Patockova, Jaromir Sobotoa, Detsky pevecky sbor Jana Kuhna, Boris Karloff / Directors: Jirí Trnka, Milos Makovec
Further reading and sources: