Karel Zeman (1910 – 1989)
The famous Czech film director, animator, artist and puppeteer Karel Zeman is often called the follower of the French filmmaker and pioneer of cinematography Georges Méliès. Karel Zeman became famous thanks to animation and special effects that form a part of the majority of his feature movies. However, he started his career with amateur puppet films. Already as a child Karel Zeman admired puppets and was a member of a puppet troupe. He studied at a business school in Kolín and advertising art design in Aix-en-Provence in France. His first animation experiment was a soap advertisement. Zeman worked in the advertising department of Dům služeb in Brno. The victory in the local window dressing competition opened his career in Zlín studios where the career of the future famous film director and artist would began. His most famous animated films were a series of shorts about Mr. Prokouk that were very popular, and a unique poetic short called Inspiration which used animated glass figures. The most famous and highly awarded features films by Karel Zeman excelling in unique animation and special effects are Cesta do Pravěku (1955), Vynález Zkázy (1958), Baron Prášil (1961), Ukradená Vzducholoď (1967) and Na Kometě (1970). It was his Cesta do Pravěku based on Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth combining a feature film with animated and puppet component that became his breakthrough work and the most successful Czech movie of all time that was sold to 72 countries of the world. Until this day Karel Zeman is an acknowledged personality of world cinematography. Fans of Karel Zeman's work can learn more about his personality and movies in the interactive Karel Zeman Museum in Prague's Malá Strana.