Journey to the Beginning of Time

Cesta do praveku

Czechoslovakia, 1955, 93’

directed by: Karel Zeman

written by: J. A. Novotný

cast: Vladimír Bejval, Petr Hermann, Josef Lukáš, Zdeněk Husták and Bedřich Šetena

cinematography: Václav Pazderník, Antonín Horák

edited by: Zdeněk Stehlík

production: Československý státní film

festivals and awards: 

Venice IFF 1955; Edinburgh IFF 1955 – Honorable Mention; Mannheim Week of Cultural and Documentary Films 1956 – Press Award for the Best Scientific Film; Moscow World Festival of Youth and Students 1957 – Special Gold Medal; Karlovy Vary IFF 2013 – Premiere of the restored digital version

In a wooden boat, four boys set out on a trip down the river of time. It takes them on a magnificent journey into prehistory. This combination of science fiction, adventure and fairy tale helped a whole generation of children to become acquainted with the history of our planet. Inspired by the illustrations of artist and anthropologist Zdeněk Burian, Karel Zeman used creative special effects to return to life prehistoric plants and animals and make one of the best children's adventure films ever. Even today, 60 years later, viewers still admire the animation and models of these creatures. The film was also acclaimed for its educational value and scientific accuracy. After all, the then leading Czech paleontologist and geologist Josef Augusta took part in its making.

Karel Zeman (1910. – 1989.) This Czech filmmaker is distinguished by the style that combines various animation techniques. Because of his innovation in techniques and style, he has been compared with the greatest "magician" of film, Georges Méliès. He is best known by his poetical fantasy films like Journey To The Beginning Of Time, An Inventor For Destruction, Baron Prášil and Magician's Apprentice.