Sep 19, 2015

Krtek, the Mole [part 01] | Czech Republic

Lately a large number of old postcards came to my possession. Among them there are a lot with Czechoslovakian stamps [so I guess the cards were sent between 1918 and  1993] and most of the cards depict Krtek [the Mole]. All the cards are written in Czech [which I don't speak] so it took a lot of research to find out who this cute little guy is.

The Mole (in the Czech original called Krtek, or, for little mole, Krteček; Slovak Krtko) is an animated character in a series of cartoons, created by Czech animator Zdeněk Miler in 1956. Since its inception, the cartoon won itself an enormous popularity in many Central European countries, as well as India, China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Japan, due its distinct lack of dialogue.

Krtek was first seen in 1956 in Prague, when Miler wanted to create a children's cartoon about how flax is processed. He wanted a strong Disney influence to the cartoon by choosing an animal for the leading role, and decided to pick a mole after stumbling over a molehill during a walk. The first film called "Jak krtek ke kalhotkám přišel" ("How the mole got his trousers") was released in 1956. Production for further episodes started in 1963 and since then, around 50 episodes have been created.

The first episode of the cartoon was narrated, but Miler wanted the cartoon to be understood in every country of the world, so he decided to use his daughters as voice actors, reducing the speech to short non-figurative exclamations in order to express the mole's feelings and world perception. They also became the bottleneck of the creation process as they were the ones who got to see the whole film first, thus Miler was able to decide whether the message of the movie was able to get to children or not. [wikipedia]

It took me a long time to realize it, but when I draw Krtek, I was drawing myself.

— Zdeněk Miler

The two ones you see here are - I think - from 'The Mole and the Car [Krtek a autíčko]' episode.


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