Karel Zeman

03.11.1910, Ostromer, Austro-Hungary (today Czech Republic) - 05.04.1989, Prag, Czech Republic


Zeman is a director, screenwriter and animator. He is considered to be one of the founders of Czech animated films. After finishing school in France he worked in advertising and made commercial short films. He got interested in animation after meeting Elmar Kloswho worked in an animation studio in Zlin. Klos offered Zeman a job in the studio, which he accepted. He made his first short film Vánocní sen (1946) with Hermína Týrlova and they won an award for the best animation in Cannes in 1946. His first individual project was a series of short films about the popular character that he created Mr Prokouk (1947 - 1955). His first long film was Král Lávra (1950) and in 1952 he directed his first film in which he combined feature film elements with animation and special effects (which became one of his recognizable techniques) Cesta do praveku (1955). Afterwards he made the acclaimed film adaptation of Jules Verne’s A Deadly Invention (Vynalez zkazy, 1958), a film adaptation of the story about the baron of Munchausen Baron Prásil (1961). He returned to Verne in his films The Stolen Airship (Ukradená vzducholod, 1966) and Na komete (1970). Between 1971 and 1974, he made seven short animated films about Sinbad, whose feature film version is called Pohádky tisíce a jedné noci (1974). His last two films are Carodejuv ucen (1977) and Ivica i Marica (Pohádka o Honzíkovi a Marence, 1980).


Films by this director

The Stolen Airship

(Ukradená vzducholod, 1966)

Directed by: Karel Zeman
PHOTOGRAPHY: Josef Novotný, Bohuslav Pikhart

This film with a unique visual style that combines feature film elements with animation, tells the story of five boys who steal a balloon at an exhibition in Prague. This is just the beginning of the boys’ big adventure. After landing on an island that has not yet been put on the map, they meet pirates and captain Nemo, and finally face some other natural forces.

b/w and color, 35 mm, 90 min

On the Comet

(Na komete, 1970)

Directed by: Karel Zeman

color, 74 min
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