On his blog last month, Kōji Yamamura reported that he is helping Kariya City Art Museum in Aichi Prefecture set up their exhibition Another Czech Anime Master: Karel Zeman (チェコ・アニメもうひとりの巨匠 カレル・ゼマン展). Karel Zeman (1910-1989) was an acclaimed animation and special effects pioneer and this will be the first time that the Japanese public will have a chance to view Zeman’s puppets, storyboards, and original art in person. Go to Yamamura’s blog and click on the images to see amazing photographs of some of the original puppets as he unpacks them from their shipping crates. I recognize the doll in the third photo as the neglected toy in The Christmas Dream (Vánocní sen, 1946), a film which won for best animation at the Cannes Film Festival and catapulted Zeman into worldwide recognition.
The work of Karel Zeman is historically significant to Japanese art animation history because his work, along with others of the Czech puppet animation school, inspired Tadanari Okamoto (岡本忠成, 1932-1990) to go into puppet animation. I believe that Okamoto encountered Zeman’s work while studying at Nihon University. Like Zeman, Okamoto was an innovator with the materials he used to create his animated films.
This year marks the centenary of the birth of Zeman, who is particularly famous for his work combining stop motion with live actors. Yamamura seems to be planning to hold a talk and a workshop about the career of Zeman to coincide with this event. Keep an eye on his blog (Japanese only) for more information in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week, Yamamura posted photographs of a scuba helmet used in The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958), which was an adaptation of Verne’s 1896 novel Facing the Flag (悪魔の発明). As I won't be in Japan this spring, I do hope that Yamamura continues to post photos from this amazing exhibition.
The Karel Zeman exhibition runs from April 17th until May 30th. Screenings of Zeman’s films are also planned. Go to the announcement on Kariya City Art Museum’s website for more details and some more beautiful photographs of exhibits.
Kariya City Art Museum