Today we commemorate 100 years since the birth of Zdeněk Miler, an important Czech artist and author of one of the most famous Czech animated characters – Little Mole (in Czech Krtek or Krteček).
Little Mole played a major role in almost fifty short animated films.
Zdeněk Miler was born on February 21, 1921, in Kladno. He began his artistic activity in the Zlín film studios, from where in 1945 he went to work in the Barrandov studio “Brothers in a T-shirt”, where he created under the direction of Jiří Trnka.
His first solo work was the animated story About a millionaire who stole the sun, based on a theme from the work of Jiří Wolker. The Barrandov film studio’s later logo, three curly little boys in navy T-shirts, was also his work.
Miler became most famous for the animated series The Mole, which gradually gained great popularity. It is interesting that this animated series is not spoken, with the exception of the first part entitled How the mole got his trousers.
It tells the story of how Krtek got animals with different skillsets to join efforts and make a pair of pants from scratch. This little film had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 1957, where it won two Golden Lions.
Over nearly five decades, Krtek has starred in over 50 short animated films for children. He is shown around the world and is especially popular in Germany and Japan.
In 1998, an asteroid orbiting the Sun in the belt between Jupiter and Mars was named after him.
Krteček and his little friends only make sounds and interjections, which were actually the voice recordings of Miler’s two little daughters, Kateřina and Barbora. Zdeněk Miler also expanded his rich artistic activity with illustrations of children’s books. He illustrated, among other things, Petišek’s Grandfather’s Fairytale.
Zdeněk Miler died at the age of 90 in 2011, in the sanatorium in Nová Ves pod Pleší. You can pay a visit to his grave at the Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague; there is a commemorative plaque on his family home in Kladno. With the Little Mole, of course.
“When I draw Krtek I am drawing myself,” his creator, the Czech animator Zdenek Miler, once said. “What I mean is that Krtek is the ideal that should be me. But I can’t meet that ideal.”
By the way, his Little Mole is a successful businessman. It is estimated that Miler made about CZK 200 million and the Little Mole continues to bring millions in revenue every year.