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Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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The Fabulous World of Karel Zeman

Published on November 05th, 2015 in Entertainment

  • Zeman on the set of Baron Munchausen (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • The young Karel Zeman (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • Filming Journey to the Beginning of Time (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • Filming Journey to the Beginning of Time (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • Zeman on the set of The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • Zeman on the set of The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • The Karel Zeman Museum (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • The Karel Zeman Museum (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • The Karel Zeman Museum (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • Zeman wins award at Expo58 in Brussels (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • Zeman with his children, 1960 (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

  • Zeman on the set of King Lavra (photo credit: Karel Zeman Museum)

 

Chances are you may not have heard of the Czech film director Karel Zeman (1910-1989). But if you’ve watched movies by acclaimed American filmmakers Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, Wes Anderson, or George Lucas, you have seen his influence in action.

 

Zeman is best known for making fantasy films which combine live action footage with animation. He was also a pioneering special effects whiz, employing a number of innovative techniques in his vast cinematic repertoire.

 

Many of his films were inspired by the author French Jules Verne and the Czech illustrator Zdeněk Burian. Not surprisingly, Zeman, with his fantastical mechanical set creations is also a hero among the local steampunk set!

 

 

 

 

Zeman’s best-known works are probably Journey to the Beginning of Time (Cesta do pravěku, 1955), The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (Vynález zkázy, 1958), and the The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (Baron Prášil, 1961) but he also made a number of very stylish animated films.

 

The Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects opened in Prague in 2013 just beneath the Charles Bridge and a stone’s throw from our Malá Strana store. I recently visited with my two-year-old daughter and her three-year-old friend. The individual rooms of the museum are set up like mini movie studios where visitors can ride a flying submarine, walk around the moon, or take the controls of a submarine.

 

These hands-on attractions occupied the little ones, while the adults enjoyed the various video stations revealing the tricks behind the special effects as well as the biographical info on the visionary filmmaker. Several of his films play on a loop and themed bean bags are available if you want to sit and watch.

 

Lately, there has been a revived interest in Zeman due to the July 2015 release of the Czech documentary Karel Zeman Adventurer in Film. I haven’t yet seen it but plan to do so as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

The visual style of his films is very appealing for young and old alike and needless to say if you or your children love toy dinosaurs, tentacled monsters, and flying machines, a movie marathon just might be in order. A number of restored titles from Zeman’s catalog are available on DVD in the small gift shop, the bean bags are only available in their online store—I am contemplating the set of three. DVDs are in Czech with English subtitles.

 

 

 

Left: Bean Bag Chairs - Available with many different illustrations  |  Right: Collection of 7 DVDs of Karel Zeman movies

 

 

As it was, the museum proved a great rainy day afternoon activity for our group. If you want to make an afternoon of it, I suggest lunch at Cukrkávalimonáda or Café Savoy.

 

 

Karel Zeman Museum

Saský dvůr – Saská 3, Prague 1 Malá Strana
www.muzeumkarlazemana.cz/en/
tel +420 724 341 091
hours open daily 10:00 – 19:00
entrance fee Adults 200 CZK, children (under 15) 140 CZK, children under 1 meter FREE
tram 22 to Malostranské náměstí

 

 

 

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