Dir: Tomas Hodan
Czech Republic 2015, 102 mins
Around the same time that Ray Harryhausen was bringing monsters to life, Karel Zeman was achieving equally dazzling, innovative work at a small film studio in Czechoslovakia. Having taught himself animation as a young man through close study of Felix the Cat cartoons, Zeman began to assemble a team of artisans and artists who could help him to realise his vision; a Melies-style world of flying machines and dinosaurs created with miniatures, matte painting and in-camera effects.
One of the joys of this new documentary portrait is the chance to hear from those collaborators, while also seeing a group of students attempt to recreate some of their optical tricks. Fans including Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton pay homage, and it’s to be hoped that this film (along with a new museum and restorations of his work) will see Karel Zeman getting the reputation which his influence merits.
If Film Adventurer leaves you wanting more, catch Zeman’s Invention for Destruction at the Electric on Wednesday 20th April.