A Midsummer Night’s Dream

(Sen noci svatojánské)
Czechoslovakia 1959. Dir: Jiří Trnka. 72 min. 35mm

Richard Burton narrates this bewitching adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic fairy tale, in which the love lives of mortals and forest sprites mingle during one magical moonlit evening. In his final feature — also the first CinemaScope film made in Czechoslovakia — Trnka deploys the full force of his imagination and technical wizardry to evoke the story’s enchanted-woodlands setting, a garlanded, pastel dreamscape awash in starry-night atmosphere, colourful festoons of flowers, and exquisitely wrought fantasy creatures. The graceful puppetry combined with the Václav Trojan score and voiceover work by Burton and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company yields a masterpiece of surpassing, balletic beauty. English version.

— preceded by —

Merry Circus
(Veselý cirkus)

Czechoslovakia 1951. Dir: Jiří Trnka. 12 min. 35mm

Trnka brings to life a surrealist circus of tightrope-walking fish, musical monkeys, balancing bears, and high-flying acrobatics in this whimsical feat of cut-out animation made in collaboration with leading Czech painters of the era.