Watch the films discussed in this article with English subtitles by viewing and/or downloading them here!
In the years since I initially spoke at length about the multi-talented animator Břetislav Pojar, and his important collaborations with artist Miroslav Štěpánek, I have learned some valuable things about them and their working relationship and how it regrettably deteriorated over time, not least because of disputes over who deserved more credit for the success of their works together—in particular, their beloved series of shorts featuring the two bears who met at Kolín, known as Pojďte pane, budeme si hrát (Hey Mister, Let’s Play) and Kdo to hodil, pánové? (Who Threw That, Gentlemen?). During this period, I also discovered that Pojar and Štěpánek actually made a TV series after The Garden ended, Dášeňka, based on Karel Čapek’s dog-rearing novel of the same name, and it was a treat to see more Pojar films that I had not known even existed at the time I wrote my original articles. And this past February, I discovered that Czech Television has made several episodes of their old multi-installment television anthology, Mistři českého animovaného filmu (Masters of Czech Animated Film), available for free viewing on their website; to my elation, they included four of the Hey Mister, Let’s Play shorts with original credits, and they even came with subtitles transcribing all the dialogue in the short films themselves.
Things progressed even further in March, when I somehow discovered that subtitles for all episodes of Mistři českého animovaného filmu, and all of the Hey Mister and Who Threw That shorts individually, were available online; even when the episodes themselves weren’t viewable, the subtitles for them were strangely buried within the HTML code of their individual pages on Czech Television’s website. Around this same time, I also realized that most of the narration in Dášeňka was taken straight from the original book; altogether, this meant that all three of the major Pojar-Štěpánek series (Hey Mister/Who Threw That, The Garden, Dášeňka) already had more-or-less complete written transcriptions in Czech, and were just waiting to translated by someone who had enough time and knowledge.
A transcript for “Princesses are Not to Be Sniffed At”…buried inside HTML code on Czech Television’s website!
I quickly realized this would be a great opportunity to do a huge service to those animation fans out there who love Pojar and his works, especially the Hey Mister series, but have been unable to fully appreciate them owing to the language barrier, as well as to further publicize what I have learned about his career and collaboration with Štěpánek; while I must openly admit to not being a Czech speaker, I have nevertheless made a painstaking attempt to translate these shorts using the subtitles provided by Czech Television, with the help of numerous online resources and pages (not least of which was this dictionary, aha). The results are not quite perfect, and I welcome corrections from any Czech speakers who notice any mistakes I may have made; still, it’s nice to finally be able to revisit these wonderful shorts with at least a little bit of extra knowledge and insight.
This planned series of articles, as it stands, would not be possible without the immense support of Marin Pažanin, whose Ajetology blog is a valuable resource on Czech animation in its own right; it was his interest in the artists behind Pat & Mat that led to him interviewing, among others, the great ex-Pojar animator Jan Klos, whose anecdotes were crucial to a further understanding of these series and the personalities behind them. Marin is also responsible for providing me with several of the images that will be used to illustrate these articles—either by pointing me to certain resources or by scanning them himself from his copy of the book Zlatý věk české loutkové animace—as well as correcting or suggesting changes to my translations of the shorts themselves, and most importantly he even pointed me to the existence of the Japanese DVD of The Garden, which featured those films in vastly superior quality to the versions that have circulated online for years. (You can watch these Japanese versions with my subtitles here!) I will always be grateful to him. (more…)