Auditorium - DAMSLab > 15:20

JIRÍ TRNKA, L’AMI RETROUVÉ / Par desmit minuˉteˉm vecaˉks

Joël Farges, Tereza Brdečková


Thursday 27/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

A film director returns to Prague in search of a copy of the first film he saw as a child, Princ Bajaja (Prince Bayaya), a film by Jiří Trnka who died exactly 50 years ago. During his quest, he revisits the life and the work of Trnka. All his life, Jiří Trnka would have wanted to stay in his mother’s skirts, to play with puppets, sleep in a toyshop and so, in a way, escape the chaos of the 20th century.
History was traumatic for him as his father left for the war and came back much affected.
Born in 1912 in Plzeň, Trnka wanted, from a very young age, to become a puppeteer, but he realised his dream beyond what he could have imagined. He entered the world of animation film only by chance. On the orders of Hitler and Goebbels, who admired Disney films, the Dodal family studio of Prague was plundered and the Nazis hired apprentice animators, ordering them to do better than the Americans. They were ignoring the fact that producing an animation film requires many years. The Germans lost war and their will could never be fulfilled, but meanwhile, the Czech apprentice animators had learned the job.
After the Liberation, the studio was nationalised. Trnka, who had distinguished himself with his illustrations and his puppet theatre, was appointed to become the director. In 1946, he decided to take revenge on the Nazis by producing a sarcastic film: Pérák a SS (Springman and the SS). This film met a fair success and won several awards. However, what Trnka wanted the most was to make movies with puppets. He created his own studio and asserted himself as the undisputed master of this art with masterpieces such as Císařův slavík (The Emperor’s Nightingale), Princ Bajaja, Staré pověsti české (Old Czech Legends) and Sen noci svatojánské (Midsummer Night’s Dream).
Trnka lived under two totalitarianisms: Nazism and Soviet communism. Although his films were admired in western Europe, and his drawings were selling for gold, during the Cold War he soon found himself in the hands of communist apparatchiks. He could not accept being used as a toy himself, and he denounced his situation by making a short film, Ruka (The Hand), that won the Grand Prize at the Annecy Festival in 1965. Copies of the film were immediately seized and Trnka was banished from the school where he was teaching. Two years later, Prague fell under the Soviet tanks and Trnka passed away, forgotten by those who had been enthralled by his films when they were children.

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Tereza Brdečková, Joël Farges. Int.: Reginald Huguenin, Tereza Brdečková, Jérôme Carret, Arkaitz Basterra Zalbide. Prod.: Vladimir Lhotak, Olga Prud’homme-Farges, Alena Mullerova, Bruno Deloye per Hausboot – Kolam productions, Czech Televize, Ciné +. DCP. D.: 80’. Col.


International Title
Ten Minutes Older
Director: Herz Frank
Year: 1978
Country: Lettonia
Running time: 10'