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Directed by Jiří Trnka, Miloš Makovec

Czechoslovakia 1948 72 mins. In Czech

Trnka’s adaptation of a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale is an enchanting animated jewel box. Framed by live action sequences—about a lonely boy shut away from fun and play—the story unfolds as a child’s dream vision, a tale of illusion versus reality in which a Chinese emperor is ensorcelled first by the song of a nightingale, then by its mechanical replica. Working in a rich red, green, and gold visual palette, Trnka conjures a hallucinatory storybook world of moonlit bamboo forests, softly glowing Chinese lanterns, and bursting fireworks displays all set to a gorgeous, rhapsodic score by his key collaborator, Václav Trojan.

Jan Pinkava is creative director of Google Spotlight Stories and an Academy Award-winning director; his career in animation spans a quarter century, including thirteen years at Pixar, where he wrote and directed the short film Geri’s Game and was the original creator of Ratatouille.