Jiri Trnka

Jiří Trnka  (24 February 1912, Plzeň – 30 December 1969, Prague) was a Czech puppet maker, illustrator, motion-picture animator and film director, renowned for his stop motion puppet animations. [from Wikipedia]

The last of Trnkas films The Hand was an unexpected and surprising break in his work thus far. It was something completely new in content and form. The Hand is a merciless political allegory which strictly follows story outline without developing lyrical details as usual it had a strong dramatic arc with deep catharsis in the end. Trnka had used a combination of his typical funny-foolish but undefeated ordinary man puppet as the protagonist and a live-action human hand (naked or in gloves) as the despotic antagonist. When The Handwas released it was officially declared as Trnkas criticism of the Cult of Personality (Stalin) but for all people it was an alarming allegory of human existence in a totalitarian society. The film had the strong up-to-date story about the Artist and the omnipresent Hand which only allowed the Artist to make sculptures of the Hand and nothing else. The Artist was sent to a prison for his disobedience and pressed to hew a huge sculpture of the Hand. When the omnipresent Hand caused the Artists death the same Hand organizes the artists State funeral with all artists honoured. Trnka for the first time openly expressed his opinion about his own inhuman totalitarian society. The Hand was one of the first films that helped to open the short Pragues Spring. It is curious that Trnka predicted his own fate in it. When Jiri Trnka died in November 1969 (at only 57 years of age) he had a State funeral with honours. Only four months later The Hand was banned all copies were confiscated by the secret police put in a safe and the film was forbidden for screening for next twenty years. A seventeen minute long puppet film intimidated the unlimited power of the Totalitarian State.  [from unknown author]

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