Animator and Writer. Nationality: Czech. Born: Jiří Brnečka in Hranice, Moravia, 24 December 1917. Education: Studied at an art college, Prague; studied art history, Charles University, Prague, 1936–39. Career: Writer, journalist, and illustrator; 1940—first appearance of story Limonádový Joe (later versions as play, novel, and animated film); 1943–44—animator for Richard Dillenz Studio (later Prag-Film); 1946—wrote scripts for Trnka's animated films, and joined Bratri Triku Studio after the war; 1947—first film as director of animation; 1951—first fiction film as scriptwriter. Died: 2 June 1982.
Animated Films as Writer:
Pérák a SS (The Springer and the SS-Men) (Trnka); Dárek (The Gift) (Trnka)
Sváb (The Cockroach) (Mann); Vzucholod a láska (Love and the Zeppelin) (+ d)
Císařuv slavík (The Emperor's Nightingale) (Trnka); Andelský kabát (The Angel's Coat) (Hofman)
Papírové nokturno (Paper Nocturne) (Hofman); Arie prérie (The Song of the Prairie) (Trnka)
Káslání a kýchani (Cough and Sneeze) (Mozís); Mouchy (Flies) (Mozís); Neviditelní neprátelé (Invisible Enemy) (Mozís); Vitamin C
Staré povesti ceské (Old Czech Legends) (Trnka); O svetle (On Light) (Srámek); O skleničku vic (A Drop Too Much) (Pojar)
Ztracená varta (The Lost Sentry) (Makovec)
Historie blechatého psa (Story of a Dog Who Had Fleas) (Mudrnáč); Vynález zkásy (An Invention for Destruction; The Fabulous World of Jules Verne) (K. Zeman)
Animated Films as Director and Writer:
Jak se človek naucil létat (A Comic History of Aviation; How Man Learned to Fly)
Drahoušek Klementýna (My Darling Clementine); Pozor! (Look Out!; Attention)
Naše Karkulka (Our Little Red Riding Hood)
Clovek pod vodou (Man Under Water); Zavada není na vašem přijímaci (The Television Fan)
Rozum a cit (Reason and Emotion); Zmrzly dřevař (The Frozen Logger)
Spatne namalovaná slepice (Gallina Vogelbirdie; The Grotesque Chicken); Jak na to (How to Keep Slim)
Slóvce M (The Letter M; The Minstrel's Song)
Dezertér (The Deserter); Blaho lásky (The Joy of Love; She and He)
Do lesíčka na čekanou (Forester's Song; Let's Go Hunting in the Woods); Proč se usmíváš, Mona Lisa? (Why Do You Smile, Mona Lisa?)
Moc osudu (The Power of Destiny); Pomsta (Vengeance)
Jak se moudrý Aristoteles stal jeste moudřejšim (Wise Aristotle Gets Still Wiser; Aristotle)
Jsouc na rece mlynár jeden (There Was a Miller on the River)
Tvár (The Face)
What I Didn't Say to the Prince
Animated Films as Cowriter:
Proč UNESCO? (Why UNESCO?) (Trnka); Sen noci svatojánske (A Midsummer Night's Dream) (Trnka); Bombománie (Bomb Mania) (Pojar); Stastny lev (The Happy Lion) (Bedrich)
Sláva (Fame) (Pojar); Prak a drank (The Catapult and the Kite) (Topaldjikov); Jak zařídit byt (How to Furnish a Flat) (Pojar); Mikromakrokosmos (Little-Big-Cosmos)
Baron Prášil (Baron Munchausen) (Zeman)
Sroublkova dobrodružství (Screw's Adventures) (Vystrcil)
Tři čarovná péra (Three Magic Feathers) (Rozkopal)
Other Animated Films:
Tucet mých tatínku (My Twelve Fathers) (Hofman) (codesign)
Films as Writer:
Císařuv pekař a pekaruv cisař (The Emperor's Baker and the Baker's Emperor) (Fric)
Velké dobrodružství (Great Adventure) (Makovek)
Kavárna na hlavní třide (Cafe in the Main Street) (Hubácek); Severní přístav (Northern Harbour) (Makovek)
Bly jednou jeden Král (There Was Once a King) (B. Zeman)
Obusku, z pytle ven! (Stick, Start Beating!) (Pleskot)
Snadný život (Easy Life) (Makovek); Vlčí jáma (Wolf Trap) (Weiss); Ztracenci (Three Men Missing) (Makovek)
Taková láska (Appassionata) (Weiss)
Cerná sobota (Saturday Night) (Hubácek)
Lidé za kamerou (People behind the Camera) (Hofman—doc)
Až přijde kocour (That Cat) (Jasny)
Limonádnový Joe (Lemonade Joe) (Lipsky)
"Last Golem" ep. of Pražské noci (Prague Nights) (+ d + co-sc of other episodes)
Román o ruži (Story of a Rose) (+ d—short)
Tajemstvi hradu v Karpatech (The Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians) (Lipsky)
Spanilá jízda (The Glorious Campaign) (Danek) (ro)
By BRDEČKA: books—
Limonádový Joe, Prague, 1940.
Kelty bez pozlatka (Guns without Glamour), Prague, 1956.
Faunovo znacne pokrocile adpoledne (The Faun's Rather Late Afternoon), Prague, 1966.
By BRDEČKA: articles—
"De la difficulté d'être cinéaste d'animation tchecoslovague," in Annecy Festival Catalogue, 1963.
Continental Film Review (London), January 1977.
Film a Doba (Prague), September 1982.
Film a Doba (Prague), November 1983.
On BRDEČKA: articles—
Jeune Cinema (Paris), no. 3–4, 1964–65.
Film a Doba (Prague), vol. 11, no. 3. 1965.
Image et Son (Paris), November 1967.
Film a Doba (Prague), vol. 33, no. 12, December 1967.
Film a Doba (Prague), February 1983.
Film a Doba (Prague), December 1987.
* * *
It is not altogether accurate to call Jiří Brdečka an animator. That is, of course, what he was—but the breadth of his other interests is impressive: he was also a draughtsman, film critic, novelist, scriptwriter, and film director.
In 1940 he worked as a film critic for Lidové Noviny (later known as Svobodné). For two years he worked on publicity for Lucernafilm, and in 1943 he studied animation at the AFIT Special Effects Studio. Soon after that, he did the animation of an octopus in the animated film Wedding in the Coral Sea, the first film of the future Bratri Triku Studio, which he joined after the war. He returned to animated film and collaborated with Trnka on the scripts for such films as The Gift, The Springer and the SS-Men, The Emperor's Nightingale, The Song of the Prairie, Old Czech Legends, Why UNESCO?, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. With Pojar he collaborated on A Drop Too Much, Fame, and Bombománie. During a career that lasted almost 40 years, he also collaborated on the scripts for a number of feature, live-action films, including The Emperor's Baker and the Baker's Emperor (with Fric); Wolf Trap (with Jiri Weiss); That Cat (with Vojtěch Jasny); and Lost People (Miloš Makovec). He also adapted his own novel for Oldrich Lipsky's film Lemonade Joe.
In 1947 Brdečka made his debut as a director of animated films, with Love and the Zeppelin, visually inspired by Art Nouveau. In this film he lovingly and humorously portrays the world of discoverers, inventors and pioneers of science. He returned to this theme on two more occasions, with the films How Man Learned to Fly and Man Under Water, which involve some of the most demanding material ever attempted by an animated film—particularly the sketch "Wisdom and Teaching." As J. Bocek has commented: "This animated ballet captures a philosophical debate between the author and the audience. The conflict between reason and feeling reflects nothing less than the basic issues of life and worldliness."
The Grotesque Chicken is Brdečka's most famous film: it is his artistic declaration of faith in the imagination and in creativity. Many of his other films have their origin in a visual inspiration transformed into the grotesque—for example, Why Do You Smile, Mona Lisa? In others, particularly those inspired by music, Brdecka was attempting to impose on the serious, the tragic, and the lyrical his own touch of humour.
Brdečka was the kind of intellectual filmmaker, rich in inventiveness, who fully mastered all the elements of cinematography. He portrayed with both cunning and a gentle irony the history of inventions, philosophical essays, folk songs, myths, and fairy tales. Above all, he was the consummate story-teller who was able to transform his visual, literary, and musical inspirations into individualistic works of art. He brought new ideas and new expressive means to both the animated and the feature film.