Archive of films Little from the Fish Shop / Malá z rybárny
Czech Republic / Slovak Republic / Germany
2015, 72 min
Section: Czech Films 2014–2015
Everyone’s familiar with Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, the story of a love capable of forgiving even the greatest betrayal. In Balej’s film – a work filled with wonderful animation, expressive puppet designs and an imaginative, shifting score from French composer Chapelier Fou – the fairy-tale romance is replaced with a bleak portrayal of life in a city harbour, yet its enduring message remains. One of the first Czech feature-length puppet films to use both puppet and digital animation (stop motion + CGI).
The heroine of this film is just as innocent as the mermaid in Andersen’s fairy tale and, like her, Little wants to find true love. Except that she lives in the world of people, moreover, in a bustling city harbour. Everything’s sparkly and alluring here, even the impure things, and it’s difficult to tell them apart. Little finds her prince, too, and ultimately pays the price for falling under his devious spell. Up until this point the director adheres to the original story; otherwise he exploits his creative flexibility to develop the impulses that were once defined by Trnka’s illustrations, whose dramatic tone was aimed more at the adult reader. Balej’s conception, however, offers a modern take on the grotesque; the artistic stylisation of the puppets aptly and concisely conveys the character of the individual figures, while the animation, serving to enhance the gags and various details and to heighten the tension, brings vibrancy and dynamism to the entire narrative. The film is intriguing for its suggestive evocation of the atmosphere of the town and its bizarre secluded spots, and for its expression of a whole range of moods, from brutal moments to the lyrical intermezzos associated with the emotional world of the fragile heroine.
About the director
Jan Balej (b. 1958, Prague) studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (1988) and has created original puppet films which cultivate the great tradition of Czech hand-crafted puppet animation. Nevertheless, he is shifting the aesthetics of the genre and, in his latest film, he deftly combines classic animation techniques with computer imaging. He continues to work on children’s bedtime stories (Tom Thumb, 1994; Doings of the Hippopotamus Family, 2000; Karlík, the Little Golden Fish, 2010), but he also has different age groups in mind. He was acclaimed for his version of Werich’s tale Why Is the Sea Salty, Uncle? included in Fimfárum 2 (2006), and for the fanciful, playful collection of film stories One Night in a City (2007 – Czech Lion for Best Art Direction). His designs are highly stylised, betraying his sense of expressive hyperbole and the bizarre. He cofounded the Hafan film Praha studio in 1990, which specializes in puppet films.
About the film
|Section:||Czech Films 2014–2015|
|Screenplay:||Jan Balej, Ivan Arsenjev podle pohádky Malá mořská víla / based on the fairy tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen|
|Dir. of Photography:||Martin Procházka, Alan Soural|
|Editor:||Alena Spustová, Viliam Vala|
|Art Director:||Jan Balej|
|Producer:||Daniela Nelly Jenčíková|
|Coproduction:||Marlen Media Group, Miriquidfilm|
|Distributor:||Blue Sky Film Distribution, a.s.|
Film Director, Other
Distributor, Service Company Rep.