An introvert, perfectionist, and romantic Karel Zeman was the most successful exporter in the history of Czech cinema.

What is surprising is that he only had course of arranging and advertising drawing, and one French private school of advertising art, to which he got through a advertisement in the age of seventeen!

The first contact with puppet creations began in his childhood with the children's puppet theatre. It was a powerful impulse to the issue, about which he wrote: "I opened up a new world of puppets, quite different than the one that surrounded me. I ran to them and I loved their world, it was mine. In this world, I was the principal".

In occupied Czechoslovakia, he continued to work as an advertising artist and thanks to the victory in the contest for the best advertising of the Bata company, he got into the Zlín film studios. And here he remained throughout his life.

The first real movie, a Christmas Dream, was filmed in Zlín with Hermína Týrlová and Bořivoj Zeman. However, after finishing it, the movie burned down in a fire accident. Because Týrlová could not bear this tragedy and ended up in a hospital, both Zemans and Šustr (sound) got an offer to shoot again. The film was deliberately completed after the war and received the award for best puppet film in the International Film Festival in Cannes in 1946.

The first big movie success and Journey to the Beginning of Time 

After an outstanding and blockbuster movie A Treasure on Bird Island (1952), Zeman has prepared a unique theme for his time and processing in the form of a feature film Journey to the Beginning of Time (1955). The film was shot for three years in studios or outdoors by the river Morava in Bzenec, in the natural reserve Osypané banks. Karel Zeman then took advantage of the brilliant master and Czech painter Zdeněk Burian. The film finally became a hit in 72 countries of the world and, after 36 years, American Director Spielberg shot Jurassic park, which is clearly inspired by Zeman, even when the story is based on a master writer Michael Crichton.

The next world's innovative film was the Invention of Doom (1958)

Zeman combined quite unique historic engravings of the work of Jules Verne, animation techniques and special effects of feature film, which creates the admirable work that even today raises the excitement. The following is the Baron Munchausen (1961) on the theme of the German writer Gottfried Biirgera, but Zeman altered it and gives a contrast of thinking of contemporary young person and Rococo dreamer, Baron Munchausen.
The Jester's Tale (1964) is another famous work. A story of two Musketeers from the thirty years war created an excellent demonstration of the anti-war movie. The year 1966 is a return to the theme of Jules Verne. Film The Stolen Airship is based only loosely on a novel Two Years’ Vacation. The story of five Czech boys who find themselves on the Prague Jubilee exhibition of the year 1890, where they find steerable airship by entrepreneur Findejs, with which they can fly around the world, is another triumph of film making and special effects feature film. 


In a similar way is created the movie On the Comet (1970)

This movie clearly points to the stupidity of warfare and constant arms race. Among other important works is the Sorcerer's Apprentice (1977), on which worked his daughter Ludmila Zeman, now living in Canada, and the last movie the Tale of Honzík and Mařenka (1980) on the themes of Czech folk tales about Hansel and Gretel.

Karel Zeman died 5. April 1989. His URN is stored at the Cemetery in Zlin. 

Today, on 14.12.2017 a collection of 7 Karel Zeman movies + documentary film about Karel Zeman work, has been released.

2017Czech famous directors

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published