Hermína Týrlová (1900-1993)

Personality in Art Section

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Founder of Czech animation films, director, artist

She was born on 11th December 1900 in Březové Hory to a family of miner Antonín Týrl and his wife Marie. Her father died during works in Marie Mine in 1904 and mother died in 1912. She grew up in orphanage till the age of 14 and then left to work in Prague. She became familiar with theatre in 1915 in Uranie in Holešovice where she performed small roles and danced. At the beginning of the 20s, she met there her future husband Karel Dodal. In 1925 Dodal introduced her to cooperation with Electra Journal which was company focusing on weekly film magazines and scientific, advertising and educational films. Týrlová and Dodal learned principles of trick films there. Apart from advertisements, they directed cartoon Zamilovaný vodník (Water Sprite in Love).

After the liquidation of the Electra Journal, they tried to work independently. Týrlová directed instructional films for Ministry of Agriculture yet didn’t estimate expenses and the project ended up in loss. Failure in business led to separation and divorce. Dodal married again, and with his wife Irena, he established production company IRE-Film in 1934. Týrlová cooperated with them for 6 years. Her first puppet movie Tajemství lucerny (Lantern secret) from 1936 was initially an advertisement movie with a huge success based on which Týrlová obtained another significant contract. She directed Všudybylovo dobrodružství (Adventure of Všudybyl) for Radiojournal which was a movie with Hurvínek puppet.

In 1938 the tense pre-war situation became more evident. Karel Dodal decided to emigrate, and Hermína Týrlová lost her associate. For some time she drew for Puňťa magazine but searched for opportunities to make her own puppet movie Ferda Mravenec (Ferda the Ant). She succeeded with her proposal in the atelier of Baťovy pomocné závody (Baťa Auxilary Plants). At the beginning of 40s new phase of her life began and she stayed in Zlín till the rest of her life. She directed more than 60 movies and was a theme author and screenwriter of most of them.

Shortly after the war, she managed to realise her idea of a movie where there is a puppet acting together with an actor. Her movie Vzpoura hraček (Insurgence of Toys) was awarded Best Movie for Children on Venice Film Festival in 1947 and won the prize for Best Puppet Movie on Brussels Film Festival. Another movie Ukolébavka (Lullaby) won a gold medal on Venice Film Festival in 1948. More of her films were successful, such as Nepovedený panáček which won first prize for puppet movie on VI. Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 1952 and was well-received on International Film Festival in India. Later she directed classic fairy tales such as Pasáček vepřů, Zlatovláska as well as modern ones such as Pohádka o drakovi, Vláček kolejáček.

It was not easy for Hermína Týrlova to be internationally recognised. In the beginning, there was a story of an orphan from the impoverished mining region with memories of a beautiful betlém (scene of Nativity) and her father cutting Holy Family out of wood. The inspiration influenced her in her professional life. She was very diligent, brave and had a sense for experimenting with unusual materials (Vlněná pohádka, Kulička, Korálková pohádka). Uzel na kapesníku from 1958 is considered to be the top of her directorial work, and it succeeded on festivals in Cannes, Locarn and Mar del Plata. She directed her last film Pohádka na šňůře at the age of 85.

The long list of Czech and international awards (Karlovy Vary, Praha, Kroměříž, Varšava, Edinburgh, Teherán, Gijón, San Sebastian, Locarno, Montevideo, Cannes) was crowned by Lifetime Achievement Award which Hermína Týrlová received on International Film Festival in Paris in 1981.

She died on 3rd May 1993 in Zlín.

Author: Hana Ročňáková, ředitelka Galerie Františka Drtikola Příbram