Legenda o sv. Prokopu (1947)
Article 5519 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jiri Trnka
What it is: Puppet animation
Upon taking refuge in a house during a summer storm, the patriarch of a clan of farmers tells the story of the legend of St. Procopius.
I’m not familiar with the legend in question, but the basic story seems to involve the devil’s attempt to tempt St. Procopius. When the devil’s plan is thwarted, he attempts to get revenge by luring St. Procopius’s companion (a deer) out into the world and into the clutches of a hunter. There is no dialogue or narration to this short, though there are lyrics being sung during sections of it. There’s no listing for this short on IMDB as such; however, it was originally included in a feature film about the seasons called SPALICEK, or THE CZECH YEAR; this short was the section on summer. Even though this is one of his early works, I’m still blown away by the cinematic quality of Trnka’s craft; I’m especially impressed by the way each of his puppet creations has so much character that they all seem like individuals. At it’s best, animation can be a very magical form, and Trnka was one of animation’s great magicians.