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The mole, the myth, the legend: The story of Krtek

From winning over the hearts of people all over the world to participating on a mission to space, Krtek has done it all.

Krtek [Mole in Czech] is cartoon mole created by Czech animator Zděnek Miler and no stranger to those who have visited the Czech capital. In souvenir shops, on keychains, or as a stuffed toy – the grey-bellied, cheerful-looking little mole is all over the place.

The idea for Krtek came about when Miler wanted to create a cartoon that would explain children the processing of flax. Miler knew that he wanted a strong Disney influence by having an animal as the main character. He said that he got the idea while stumbling over a molehill during a walk.

Soon after its first release, Krtek was an instant hit. The first short film called “Jak krtek ke kalhotkám přišel” [“How the mole got his trousers”] received two Golden Lions at the 1957 Venice Film Festival.

How the mole got his design

Although the first episode was narrated, Miler decided against it in the following short films. He wanted Krtek to be understood by audiences all around the world.

For this reason, Krtek and other animal characters did not use words to communicate – except maybe for an occasional “ahoj” [“hello” in Czech]. Instead, the cartoon animals displayed a range of sounds consisting mostly of giggles or non-figurative exclamations.

Krtek-2
Czech animator Zděnek Miler wanted a strong Disney influence by having an animal as the main character.

Another important feature of the cartoons was the music. Created by the Czech composer Vadim Petrov, the music was composed specifically to support the story-telling element of the cartoons that lacked speech.

A uniting theme of the cartoons was the curiosity with which Krtek approached the world around him, seeking to educate the children on various topics.

Some episodes dealt with serious topics like protection of the environment in the face of technological progress. The episode “Krtek ve městě” [“Krtek in the city”] portrayed the construction of a modern metropolis by the destruction of the local ecosystems from the perspective of Krtek and his animal friends.

How the mole got to the stars

Six years after the festival in Venice, the next cartoon was created called “Krtek a autíčko” [“Krtek and a car”]. Following the first film’s success, the cartoon gained increasing popularity all over the world.

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This article was shared as part of our Media Partnership with Kafkadesk.org, please visit their website here to read the full article.