One-of-a-Kind Krtek

Some of you may remember the Czech cartoon about a mole, Krtek, the first series of which came out in 1957, and the last in 2002. Discovering it anew thanks to my son, I realized that it is hard to imagine any product of the children’s film industry that forms consciousness more than this cartoon.

The reason may be screenwriter and creator Zdeněk Miler (who died this year), because the cartoon remained faithful to its humanistic principles for forty (!) years. I was struck by the fact that the Mole embodies all that Partizaning writes about – he is the idol, the ideal and the eternal example. So today we are going to show you a set of his interventions from different episodes that correspond to the spirit of Partizaning.


The Mole and the Bulldozer, 1975.

Mole is a tenant of the wood. He loves it dearly and knows that this is his home. However he is far from being a crazy, radical environmental-activist; he is more or less ready to put up with civilization, but he has a very clear idea of ​​the interaction boundaries between city and forest. And when a bulldozer surrounded by poles suddenly appears in the woods destroying everything in its path, the mole gets upset; but, he is not against the road. The mole takes action when he realizes that it will pave through a flower bed that he carefully nurtured. The bulldozer goes into a pit, and while it is getting out, the mole changes the route by rearranging the poles so that the flower bed stays untouched. The territory is preserved and all interests are taken into consideration.


The Mole and the Rocket, 1965.

The mole frees trapped animals, letting them out of prison, a fate which they do not deserve. Caught butterflies, turtles and fish are set free thanks to his good graces. In fact, this episode takes place in many series. The action doesn’t even have any narrative importance: he sees a caught animal, and he sets it free.


The Mole and the Medicine, 1987.

The mole has no money, and it's never been an obstacle for reaching his goals. When his friend the mouse gets sick, the mole starts searching for medication, which (as he finds out later) was growing right beneath his feet, next to his house. In order to take the train the mole clings to the rear carriage and rides it. This movement is called “zatzeping” and it was a very popular activity in Russia: young kids catching trains by getting on the roof.


The Mole in the City, 1982.

This episode is a complete blow up, because the forest was finally cut down, replaced by a city, and the mole himself was given a key to a room in a skyscraper, where a special kind of rubber forest was organized for him so that he would not protest. At this moment he realizes that rescuing the mankind is beyond him, and in the end he and his friends fly away to a beautiful place. However, in the middle of the episode he makes a small contribution. During his walk through the garden he notices a flower growing next to the roadside, threatened by a cleaning machine. The mole undertakes the action of a guerrilla gardener and replants it in a safe place, by removing some paving stone.


The Mole in the Dream, 1984.

This episode is the most psychedelic creation of Zdeněk Miler. Dream within a dream, happening during the collapse of the civilization. I won't go into detail, but it's a must see for all ages. One of the scenes with the most vivid symbols is the mole burning a fire in the house (which is disconnected from electricity) to warm the owner of the village, and as he doesn't have any wood left he throws a TV-set into the fire, which blows up and is not useful even to burn in the fire.


The Mole and the Telephone, 1974.

The plots of some episodes are surprising to the extent that later on you stop wondering at all. I don't know the reason for this to be a part of this series at all. It is just very funny and very weird. While digging up the garden, the mole encounters a telephone cord and later  pulls out the whole phone. He does not know what it is. But when he picks up the phone, he can hear a hiss and gurgle, and he thinks that the telephone is alive, but it just got sick. During the episode he tries to cure the telephone, enfolding and nursing it. The end of the episode shows the telephone having calmed down, and they fall asleep hugging each other under the warm blanket. I don't know what it all means.


And in the end some simply beautiful screen-shots:


Translated from Russian by Maria Kotlyachkova