Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cesta do Praveku

It is not easy finding interesting beret related information from Czechoslovakia, a (former) country with such a rich beret history.
Happy to have found this shot though, from "Cesta do praveku", or "Journey to the Beginning of Time", a pioneering science fiction film by Karel Zeman released in 1955.
Following its release, the film won awards at the International Film Festivals of Venice and Mannheim, and is an excellent example of the animation skills of Karel Zeman. Cesta do pravěku was remarkably convincing, even when compared to recent efforts that use computer animation technology, and the magnificent colour backdrops and authentic sound effects all added to the film's atmosphere. One of the reasons for the film's success is that Zeman was influenced by the palaeo-art of the celebrated Czech artist Zdeněk Burian (1905-1981), upon whose work much of the film's imagery is based (two exceptions being the Stegosaurus and the carnivorous Theropod which attacks it). In some cases, 2-D copies of animals depicted by Burian were superimposed on the background as they were animated, whilst other scenes depicted by Burian were recreated using 3-D animated models.

The story involves four teenage boys who take a rowboat along a "river of time" that enters a cave, and find themselves in a tunnel that opens out onto a river in prehistoric times. As they travel downstream they find they are traveling farther back in time, and facing various perils along the way. The plot is very similar to that of the novel 'Plutonia' by the Russian palaeontologist Vladimir Obruchev, where a team of Russian explorers enter the Earth's crust via an Arctic portal, and follow a river that leads them through a chronological sequence of past geological eras and animal life. The "river of time" in the movie are actually the meanders of the Morava river near Bzenec town in what is now the Czech republic.

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