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The Emperor’s Nightingale

(Císařův slavík)
Czechoslovakia 1948. Dirs: Jiří Trnka, Miloš Makovec. 72 min. 35mm

Trnka’s adaptation of a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale is an enchanting animated jewel box. Framed by live-action sequences — about a lonely boy shut away from fun and play — the story unfolds as a child’s dream vision, a tale of illusion versus reality in which a Chinese emperor is ensorcelled first by the song of a nightingale, then by its mechanical replica. Working in a rich red, green, and gold visual palette, Trnka conjures a hallucinatory storybook world of moonlit bamboo forests, softly glowing Chinese lanterns, and bursting fireworks displays, all set to a gorgeous, rhapsodic score by key collaborator Václav Trojan. No dialogue.

— preceded by —

Springman and the SS
(Pérák a SS)

Czechoslovakia 1946. Dirs: Jiří Brdečka, Jiří Trnka. 13 min. 35mm

Trnka combines 2-D and collage animation to striking effect in this zanily offbeat, anti-Nazi lampoon, which crosses Max Fleischer—like absurdism with a biting satirical edge. His first collaboration with Jiří Brdečka.