In 1959, Gene Deitch arrived in Communist Czechoslovakia for what was meant to be a ten-day work trip. He never left. Thus began the longest phase in the remarkable career of the American filmmaker and illustrator.
For the next half-century, he directed hundreds of films at the Prague studio Bratri v Triku, primarily working on animated adaptations of children’s literature for the American company Weston Woods Studios.
Deitch, who died on April 16 at age 95, presented a documentary in 1977 in which he reveals his philosophy on the art of adapting illustrated books. Near the start of Gene Deitch: The Picture Book Animated, he notes that his approach is guided by “the unique character and content of the individual books,” but goes on to outline the core principles that shape his work. We’ve highlighted some of the key lessons below; the documentary can be watched beneath. Read our obituary of Deitch here.