Journal Entry – Week 8

7 posts


Respond to at least 1 prompt on this page (you are welcome to respond to more). For instructions on how to submit a journal entry, please follow these instructions. FORMATTING FOR THIS WEEK: Use the title format “[FirstName] [LastName] W8” and select the Category “Journal Entry – Week 8”

Prompt 1

After WWII the world could be divided (broadly) into two worldviews: that of the Western (capitalist) and Eastern (communist) blocks. How were these differences expressed in animation? What were some of the thematic, aesthetic, and financial differences between Western and Eastern national productions?

Prompt 2

The Czech government refused to distribute Jiří Trnka’ s short film “The Hand” (1965). Why do you think the film was seen as subversive by the communist government at the time?

Prompt 2

Jiří Trnka, a prominent Czech animator and filmmaker, faced challenges with his short film “The Hand” in 1965 due to its perceived subversive nature by the communist government of Czechoslovakia at the time. The film was likely seen as a political allegory that could be interpreted as critical of the regime. Here are some reasons why “The Hand” might have been viewed as subversive:

1. Allegorical Critique:

  • “The Hand” was known for its allegorical storytelling. The hand in the film symbolized authority and control. If the communist government interpreted this hand as a representation of the regime’s power, it could be seen as a veiled critique of the authoritarian nature of the government.

2. Freedom and Repression:

  • The film might have explored themes related to freedom and repression. If the hand in the film was perceived as a symbol of oppression, the government might have considered it a commentary on the restrictions imposed on artistic expression and personal freedoms in the country.

3. Metaphor for Censorship:

  • The hand could have been interpreted as a metaphor for censorship. If the film depicted the hand stifling creativity or controlling artistic expression, it might have been seen as a direct commentary on the censorship policies of the communist regime.

4. Political Climate:

  • The mid-1960s in Czechoslovakia was a period of political tension within the communist bloc. The government was sensitive to any form of dissent or perceived ideological deviation. Even subtle or symbolic critiques in art could be viewed as threats to the established order.

5. Artistic Ambiguity:

  • Trnka was known for his skill in conveying complex themes through symbolism and metaphor. The ambiguity in his storytelling style could have led to multiple interpretations, some of which might have been unsettling for the authorities.

6. Challenges to Socialist Realism:

  • Socialist Realism was the officially endorsed artistic style in many communist countries, emphasizing positive portrayals of socialist life. If “The Hand” deviated from this stylistic norm or challenged the idealized depiction of communist society, it could have been considered subversive.

7. Fear of Subversion:

  • The government might have been particularly sensitive to any form of art that had the potential to be embraced by dissidents or interpreted as a form of resistance. This fear of subversion could have contributed to the decision to suppress the film.

In summary, “The Hand” likely faced opposition from the Czech communist government due to its allegorical nature, which could be interpreted as a critique of authoritarianism, censorship, or the restrictions on artistic freedom. The political context of the time, along with the film’s artistic ambiguity, likely contributed to its classification as subversive by the authorities.

Krystalee Enderica W8

The Czech government refused to distribute Jiří Trnka’ s short film “The Hand” (1965). Why do you think the film was seen as subversive by the communist government at the time?

The film “The Hand” was seen as subversive by the communist government at the time because, during the film the puppet was seen as someone who did not want to submit himself to the “government” (the hand) and its ideals, he went against it, which led to the puppet to be paranoid and finally led to his death, the message of the film was compromising since it taught not to submit to an oppressive government that took away their artistic expressions. During the film, we can see how even though the hand forced the puppet to create figures that represented the hand, the puppet did not follow the order and did what it liked. As the film progresses, we see how the puppet is locked in a cage and is forced to create a life-size hand, in the end, he escapes but has a tragic end, however, he dies with his ideals and without subjugating himself to oppression.

overall it was seen as anti-communist propaganda and because animation had a form of persuasion and was popular at the time, the government feared it would wake the people and go against them.

Janeth Pu – Week 8

Prompt 2

The Czech government refused to distribute Jiří Trnka’ s short film “The Hand” (1965). Why do you think the film was seen as subversive by the communist government at the time?

At the time that the film was made, the Czech government were under the influence and occupied by the Communist party. The main reason why the film would’ve been seen as subversive was because of the allegory “The Hand” had presented with its story, which revolves are Totalitarianism, expressing how the government had oppressed the people of Czech to obey their way of governing the country and that they shouldn’t question them or they will be punished.

Throughout the film, a puppet depicting an artist only wishes to focus on their pottery and creates pots for a plant that it waters often, a hand suddenly shows up and causes a ruckus within the artist’s home, the hand will then command the artist to no longer focus on their pottery and make a statue of a hand instead. The artist would instead refuse and resist the commands of the hand, making attempts to keep them away from their home as well as protecting their potted plant. Despite the artist’s refusal to create the statue for the hand, his efforts were unfortunately in vain, with the hand puppeteering and forcing the artist to create the statue.

The hand is an allegory for the Czech government and its oppressive nature towards its people and of the puppeteers at the time, who were silenced from creating films that were against their Totalitarianism ways. The puppet of the Artist is a representation of how the people were being oppressed at the time, especially artists, as those who disobey the government were either punished by being sent to camps, arrested, or forced to follow the government’s law. The message that the government was forcing its people to obey was the main reason for why the film wasn’t distributed and banned so that the film’s influence wouldn’t be seen towards a broader audience.

Sofia Adinolfi W8

Prompt 2

The Czech government refused to distribute Jiří Trnka’ s short film “The Hand” (1965). Why do you think the film was seen as subversive by the communist government at the time?

The film was seen as subversive by the communist government at that time because it strongly alluded to the government’s subjugation of creative expression and how the government would force artists to only create work for them at the time. Anything created that was unrelated to the government or didn’t portray the government in a positive light was crushed and restricted. Obviously, due to this mindset and the government’s desire for unshakable control, the government banned the distribution of an animation that challenged their views and could inspire people to think differently. In the animation, the puppet represents the artist himself (Jiří Trnka), and the hand represents the Czech government. The plant represents to the original artistic visions that the artist is desperately trying to kindle and keep alive; meanwhile, “the hand” keeps trying to stamp it out and force the artist to create art of the “hand” only (aka only creating depictions of the government unconditionally and completely.) The symbol of the communist party itself is even directly referenced when the hand brings in the television — at some point, we see an image of a hand on the screen holding a scale.

The artist continues trying to make a pot, over and over again, as the hand keeps crushing it and insisting it should be made into another hand — we see that the reason why the artist is making so many pots is because the plant keeps being toppled by the hand and therefore the plant continues having to be placed in a new pot.

The animation gets darker and darker as it goes on, which can obviously further the empathy that viewers feel towards the main character — as well as the fear that the viewers feel towards “the hand” (a.k.a the government.) And the government couldn’t allow this fear to be kindled. In fact, the fear was already there, but the government couldn’t allow the flame to grow — The government knew 100 percent what they were doing, and 100 percent what this was alluding to, otherwise, they wouldn’t have banned the animation (or there was a better chance they wouldn’t — after all, they restricted freedom of expression no matter what the subject matter was).

I find it to be very jarring that once the puppet is finally just completely dead at the end of the animation, the hand places him in his OWN CLOSET as a casket, puts the candles that were there previously next to him as decorations, crosses the arms of his dead body over each other as if he were in a peaceful pose (and puts rosy makeup on him TO EMPHASISE THAT) — closes the casket, puts his hat over it, puts a laurel of a “hero” or “peace” (ironic) over the casket, and finally places the flower pot that the artist was trying so desperately to protect in front of the casket — and only then does the flower bloom. And at the end, the hand, clad in a black glove, SALUTES.

A.k.a, once the artist has been silenced, the government covers it up and only NOW will they say through fake tears that he was a “great man”.

And so by banning this animation, the government displayed a reaction to the animation that was the same reaction the animation was trying to protest.

(Also, I find it to be very tragic that apparently the artist who created this animation died only a few years after he created it… could it be a coincidence, or…?)

Prompt 1

According to the class information, after WWII, the world was possibly divided into two worldviews. Far from the political and economic division, we can find the relevant issue: the world was divided into winners and losers regardless of geographical position. There were communist winners and capitalist losers, or at least losers who started some approach to capitalist values.

In terms of aesthetics and theme in national productions, we can find the globalization pretensions by capitalism supporting the working class using financial aids to help the aperture of house market for the working class in that way, sends a message of private property acquisition freedom. A part of animation production embraced the reorganization of cities and entire societies. The propaganda was used to explain the community benefits of keeping positive for a better future and the notion of a new start, full of color, with a music environment that reflects a hopeful tone and warm visuals of facial character expressions. Themes like war introspection, repercussion on the human behave and many other considerations were part of the plot to reinforce the message of no repetition; representing the authority as a national hero or sort of “fairytale” prince was essential to contrast to authoritarian armed forces in communist nations.

On the other hand, nationalism and skepticism were fundamentals in the aesthetic argument for communist countries; expropriation of filmmaking spaces and censorship of free expression was a no-return point of arbitrary political acts, the Western depuration was part of reinforcing the argument of national pride, in that way isolate the population in a bobble to control their ideas, lifestyle and finally reach a “non-class” society and equality for every single individual. Measured shapes and minimal “magic” interaction built conservative scenes where the idealization of control pretends to approach the idea of wellness and health to evoke a nice lifestyle.