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The Little Mole Lives On
November 30, 2011 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Zdeněk Miler, the animator of the beloved Krtek ("Little Mole") animations died today. Conceived in 1954 after stumbling on a mole's burrow on his evening walk, Krtek appeared in about fifty films all drawn by Miler. The first Krtek film ("How Krtek Got His Pants"), originally an educational video about the manufacture of linen, won first prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1957. The Krtek films have been aired in about eighty countries. Miler's young daughters did the uber-cute vocalizations for Krtek, and were the films' test audience as Miler tweaked the films per their suggestions. Here are some perennial favorites: Krtek and the Radio, Krtek and the Green Star, Krtek at Christmas, Krtek and the Robot. Miler, like most film buffs, was surprised that Krtek had remained largely unknown in the United States. "Pretty much the whole world knows Krtek," Mr. Miler said. "America, which is usually first in everything, is last in this. I always look at American history," he said, "and it is a very hard one. People came. They conquered a continent. They suffered hardships, and that hardship is reflected in its movies. I look at children there and think what they are watching is a reflection of that hardness. If you look at America, it is epic. Whereas here, it is more poetic. I feel here there is more lyricism."
posted by Atrahasis (23 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Pendragon at 12:28 PM on November 30, 2011


Honestly, way cuter than Mickey Mouse.
posted by demiurge at 12:33 PM on November 30, 2011


It's fascinating that he has that perspective. I would imagine most Americans would think Poland, at least in the last century, has had a much greater amount of hardship.
posted by dhartung at 12:38 PM on November 30, 2011


Just watched the Christmas one. My kids will adore these - thanks for posting them.
posted by jquinby at 12:44 PM on November 30, 2011


dhartung: Miler is Czech, not Polish, but your point is still very valid, in my opinion.
posted by Atrahasis at 12:49 PM on November 30, 2011


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posted by uncle harold at 12:50 PM on November 30, 2011


Atrahasis: Thanks. I must have been thinking of Miś Uszatek.
posted by dhartung at 1:02 PM on November 30, 2011


ach jo.
posted by - at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2011


I just learned from the wiki page on Krtek that the 44th and final short was made in 2002 (Krtek a žabka, or Krtek and the little frog). It's clearly a modern short, featuring the use of a cell phone, but still lacks any real words (his daughters "narrated" the films in gibberish, so there would be no language barrier anywhere in the world).

I imagined that Miler had only made Krtek shorts in some nebulous "past" era, but this wiki list shows that Krtek films were made fairly regularly from 1957 to 2002.

Thanks for this reminder, and I'm sad it came with his passing.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:15 PM on November 30, 2011


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posted by progosk at 1:16 PM on November 30, 2011


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I have seen many of these over the years. They are beautiful. Thank you Zdeněk Miler.
posted by dougzilla at 1:35 PM on November 30, 2011


My pre-school and later after-school center would show these regularly on our "movie day" back in the early 80s. I always wondered what they were actually called, and was even contemplating posting something on AskMe about it.
posted by LionIndex at 2:10 PM on November 30, 2011


Krtek is one of my daughter's favorites. My wife brought a bunch of them from China on VCDs. He's known as Yenshu in China.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:12 PM on November 30, 2011


For anyone who needs a quick induction to what makes little mole so special, check out 'Little Mole and the Dream', (part1 part 2 part 3). Equal parts sweet kids show, mind-numbing trippiness, and ahead-of-its-time social commentary. (ok, i kid. The trippiness far outweighs the other two characteristics). Very sad to hear of the passing of ZM. RIP.
posted by jadayne at 2:14 PM on November 30, 2011


A doll of Krtecek was recently taken to space as a cuddly toy. For one of your creations to be blasted into space musr have been quote a nice glow for Zdenek Miler. Thanks Zdenek- my family will watch your creation decades from now.
posted by Gratishades at 2:27 PM on November 30, 2011


That last comment was far too cuddly- can I just point out in balance how awful the WSJ take on the Krtecek in Space thing was/is Space Shuttle Stowaway Is A Commie Mole
posted by Gratishades at 2:31 PM on November 30, 2011


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I loved Krtek. My XXI century kids, not so much.
posted by hat_eater at 2:46 PM on November 30, 2011


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posted by Earthtopus at 2:49 PM on November 30, 2011


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posted by chr1sb0y at 4:40 PM on November 30, 2011


People came. They conquered a continent. They suffered hardships, and that hardship is reflected in its movies. I look at children there and think what they are watching is a reflection of that hardness.

I would imagine most Americans would think Poland, at least in the last century, has had a much greater amount of hardship.

That may have been his point. The American hardships he's talking about are well over 100 years old but can still be seen in our movies and what our children are still watching. Whereas other places have gotten over themselves.
posted by DU at 6:29 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by infini at 6:36 PM on November 30, 2011


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I saw these as a child in Mexico, but I never knew the mole's name. Recently, they aired one episode and my whole family watched it, including nieces and grandma. Everybody went "aww" at the end.

This episode made the rounds in several blogs as it portrays two bunnies making babies and then giving birth.
posted by clearlydemon at 8:20 PM on November 30, 2011


The little mole shorts are the only children's television my wife and I have in common, as we come from different sides of the iron curtain.

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posted by Harald74 at 1:35 AM on December 1, 2011


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