Animation Features Live Action Movies

For Destruction
(Vynález Zkázy)

Director – Karel Zeman – 1958 – Czechoslovakia – Cert. U – 82m


Blu-ray/DVD available from Second Run.

Review originally written as an entry for

the Aurum Film Encyclopedia: War (series editor: Phil Hardy).

Sadly, the book was never published.

Vynález Zkázy


Invention For Destruction,

The Invention Of Destruction,

The Deadly Invention,

The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1961, US version)


Feature length trickfilm adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel Une Invention Diabolique is less about war itself than its causes – specifically scientists who work without regard for how their experimental research will be used by others. Professor Roche (Navrátil) is kidnapped from a sanitarium and taken by clipper (towed by a prototype submarine invisible from the surface) to the island of Back-Cup where mysterious captor Count Artigas (Holub) invites him to continue his research – a task the childlike scientist is happy to undertake. The professor’s travelling companion, research assistant and the film’s narrator Simon Hart (Tokos) wants by contrast to escape and warn the world of Artigan’s plans to attack using a giant gun.

Zeman shoots his film with an all-encompassing diversity of live action and animated techniques, mixing actors, natural history photography and studio sets (augmented by drawings of set sections matted into his locked-off frame) on the one hand with live action and stop-frame puppetry, animated models, drawings and any other method you care to name.

He himself also art directed the picture, employing a unique style that effectively puts the viewer into the world of a nineteenth century engraving photographed from the inside by a live action camera – as if, indeed, it were being imagined by book illustrators of Jules Verne’s day. Much of this is achieved by stripes reminiscent of the very texture of steel engraving, found everywhere in the set design and characters’ clothing, the surfaces of seafaring craft and even overlaid over sky, sea and land as an optical grid placed before the camera. This gives the ships, submarines and hot air balloons (which also feature prominently in the picture) an immediate actuality rather different from what straightforward live action cinematography would have afforded, putting the picture at the forefront of both the War genre’s and the wider cinema’s pioneering exercises in visual style.

The director is best known for Baron Prášil / Fabulous Baron Munchausen / The Fabulous Adventures Of Baron Munchausen / The Original Fabulous Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (dubbed version) (1961). The introductory host added to the 1961 US version was Hugh Downs.

Role Firstname Surname
d Karel Zeman
p Zdenek Novak
s Jirí Brdecka
s (dialogue) Milan Vacha
c Jirí Tarantík
lp Lubor Tokos
  Jana Zatloukalová
  Miroslav Holub
  Arnost Navrátil
  Frantisek Cerny
  Václav Kyzlink
  Vanislov Kuvlov
  Václav Tregl

Trailer here:–YrU&feature=emb_logo

Review originally written as an entry for

the Aurum Film Encyclopedia: War (series editor: Phil Hardy).

Sadly, the book was never published.

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