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Thursday Morning Inspiration: Bretislav Pojar

Bretislav Pojar

This cartoon series is a surprising and joyful discovery for me. From what I’ve read online though, it seems to be a well known classic among Czech viewers. Between 1965 and 1967, Czechoslovakian animator Bretislav Pojar made a series of six shorts called Hey Mister, Let’s Play. The mostly stop-motion cartoons star two bears—one smart, the other not so much. Pojar made five more episodes featuring the same bears in the early-1970s, this time calling it Who Threw That, Gentlemen?.

Below is the first short, Potkali se u Kolina (How They Met At Kolin), that introduces the characters. The cartoon is over forty years old yet it looks as fresh and vital as any cartoon being produced today. How did they ever manage to create something with so much charm and appeal? It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, and director Pojar and designer Miroslav Stepanek make it all look so effortless. The animation of the characters is particularly fun to watch with stylized movement and graphic inventiveness abound.

For those who want to see more and can understand the following website, two dvds of these shorts can be purchased here.

  • thanks for this. “PojÄ?te pane, budeme si hrát” is one of those overlooked animation series that really deserves more attention. I got to to see the films on 35mm prints and the actual puppets in the Barandov studios while I was studying in Czech Republic. The puppets where about 15 cm and they were animated on top of a sheet of glass, so only “half” of the puppet was constructed.
    Some of the most charming and fun animation ever.

  • Chuck R.

    Wow, this is really terrific, and yes, a bit of a shock to someone who thinks he’s seen it all.

    I can’t think of another instance where fully dimensional characters work in an absolutely flat and modern environment. (Maybe George Pal did it somewhere) The exact opposite occurs in those excellent Fleischer cartoons with 3D backgrounds, but this approach probably makes more sense, because it puts the detail on the characters where it belongs. It gets surreal when the 3D animals drive a somewhat flattened car behind a flat sculpted tree, but it works.

    Is it just me, or is the smaller bear way more believable/appealing/expressive than the larger one?

    Anyone know how these were done? All in the camera?

  • E

    Beautiful Visual Fun-ness. Nice.

  • Chuck R.

    Thanks, for the description, germán!
    Anyone know if this has ever been done elsewhere?

  • Absolutely incredible, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it.

  • Very charming & fun characters, indeed. It’s cool how they applied a lot of hand-drawn principles to the characters, like squash & stretch & such. I’ve never known about these films before, now I’m very intrigued by how great they really are. Even though it’s in another language, I can understand how they feel just by looking at them.

    Am I the only one after viewing this who actually would like some of that candy they’re eating?

    Chuck R. – I agree, the smaller bear to me is a much more likable character than the taller one.

  • red pill junkie

    The only thing I didn’t like much was the red background. It remains the same during the whole length of the short.

    But all the rest was pretty amazing.

  • Chris M

    There are also 2 dvd’s out in japan(no english subs). I bought the japanese discs a few years ago so I’m not sure if they’re still available.There is also a czech animation collection called Fantastic! Czech Animation available in japan. It’s 8 discs!! available seperately or in a box set. I believe there are a couple of Pojar’s shorts included.YAY!

  • I saw these projected outdoors about five years back at an animation festival in the Czech Republic.

    I was laughing my ass off very loud and the old man sitting next to me turn and said “oh…so you speak Czech?” I told him I didn’t and he couldn’t understand why I was laughing. He said that “the writing is what’s funny.” I guess the jokes must be stellar.

    I think they’re the Czech equivalent of Bugs Bunny. The undercamera multiplane squash and stretch has blown my mind for years. Thanks for posting it.

    I also saw the dvds in japan and kinda have regretted not getting them when I could.

  • Chuck R.

    “The only thing I didn’t like much was the red background. It remains the same during the whole length of the short.”

    Right on, RPJ! It would have been more interesting if the bkgnds evolved a bit. ;-)

  • This was brilliant! shame how everything is now so generic :(

  • this is fantastic! thank you! i love all the pliability to the characters even with the very solid look. it’s an amazing style! well done as always brewmaster!

  • That was great…even though I couldn’t understand what was being said.

    The way the cartoon is stop motion yet the characters morph and change shape constantly like they were hand drawn is quite fantastic. Why have no other stop motion cartoons (that I’ve seen at least) used these techniques?

  • jana prchalova

    Mistr Pojar was my tutor in Pragues film school. He is true legend of czech animation. I am really glad that he has been noticed by cartoonbrew. He isn’t just a brilliant director but he can pass all his knowledge onto his pupils. Funnily enought I spoke to him last week and he is still working and teaching. Many thanks for that and let me know if you need translation of the dialogues.

  • Chuck R.

    “let me know if you need translation of the dialogues.”

    I’ll take you up on that, jana.
    Could you give us just a few good lines as an example of M. Pojar’s style of humor?


    A lot of ‘youtube’ stuff is very harsh on the eye……..i know it’s early days for this technology, and it is excellent for viewing ultra-rare gems………….THIS, on the other hand, has quality resolution and wasn’t bad at all even when i blew it up ‘fullscreen’. CHARMING. and refreshingly ‘non-corporate’.

  • Steve Brown

    I just had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pojar recently at the Famu film school in Prague. He truly is a great and visionary animation director. The two-and-a-half dimensional puppets shot on glass with a down-shooting camera was a great technique. It should definately be used more.