The Hand: Five Jiří Trnka Shorts

Jiří Trnka’s final film, 1965’s The Hand, is one of his finest, and is frequently cited as one of the best animated films ever made. It anchors this program of five outstanding shorts by the great Czech animator.

Romance with Double Bass (Román s basou) • This dreamily beautiful puppet work adapts a short story by Chekhov into a magical, moonlit reverie about a musician, a princess, and a chance encounter while night-swimming. 1949. 13 min. DCP

Song of the Prairie (Arie prerie) • One of Trnka’s most delightfully silly efforts is a slapstick spoof of John Ford’s Stagecoach and Hollywood singing-cowboy Westerns based on a novel by writer and fellow animator Jiří Brdečka, who later scripted a feature adaptation, the cult favorite Lemonade Joe. 1949. 20 min. DCP

The Two Frosts (Dva mrazíci) • Two mischievous frost spirits — voiced by famed comedian Vlasta Burian and author, popular actor, and satirist Jan Werich — make things chilly for a pair of travellers in this wintry comic folktale. 1954. 12 min. DCP

Archangel Gabriel and Mistress Goose (Archanděl Gabriel a paní Husa) • Adapted from a story in Boccaccio’s Decameron, this irreverent, medieval-set lampoon of religious hypocrisy mixes Christian iconography with bawdy black humour to tell the tale of a lusty Venetian monk who assumes the guise of the angel Gabriel to seduce a married woman. 1964. 29 min. DCP

The Hand (Ruka) • Trnka’s final work is a powerful, deeply personal allegory about the plight of the artist toiling under a totalitarian government. The story of a simple sculptor menaced by a giant, disembodied hand that forces him to bend to its will, it was banned by the Communist censors for two decades — but has since taken its place as an acknowledged masterpiece of animation. 1965. 18 min. 35mm