Gene Deitch

Gene Deitch’s memoir is back in a new edition

in Culture by

Just one American lived in Prague from 1959 to the Velvet Revolution

Gene Deitch is still in Prague, and a newly expanded sixth edition of his book For the Love of Prague tells the unique story of his trip here in 1959 to oversee new editions of Tom and Jerry cartoons. The trip would never end, as he stayed throughout the Cold War and Velvet Revolution and beyond.

The book is in select local bookstores such as the Globe and available online.

For the Love of Prague: From the Tragedy of Communism to the Comedy of Capitalism
Sixth edition
Published by John Caulkins, 2015

70 years of Bratři v triku exhibition
When: To Dec. 31, Daily 9:30–11:30 a.m. and noon–5 p.m.; closed Dec. 24 and 25; Dec. 31, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
Where: Strahov Monastery, Strahovské nádvoří 1/132

It is the true story of how Deitch found love as an American living in communist Czechoslovakia. At the same time, Deitch’s important contribution to Czech animation is being celebrated at Strahov Monastery’s exhibition of the 70 year history of the animation studio Bratři v triku. The exhibition is coming to Dec. 31.

Deitch first came to Prague in 1959 as a cartoonist from New York, knowing little in the way of how his life would change forever. For the next 50 years, Deitch would live through the changes of communist Czechoslovakia, while falling in love with his wife Zdenka, the director of the Bratři v triku animation studio.

For the Love of Prague tells the story of their love through a revolution, and the sixth edition is subtitled “From the Tragedy of communism to the Comedy of capitalism!”

The book, which was first published in 1995, follows Deitch’s life in Prague, through more than 60 chapters of communism, love, friendships, and animation.

Looking back on his first arrival in Prague, Deitch writes: “All the officials kept apologizing, for god forbid I would get the wrong impression. They didn’t want me to think they were doing anything wrong.”

A talented cartoonist and animated film director, Deitch also produced popular cartoons for the US market such as later episodes of Tom and Jerry with the Czech studio Bratři v triku; however, he is most famous for their collective work on the animated short film Munro, which earned him an Academy Award in 1961.

Deitch relives the moment Munro won the Oscar in the book: “Out of the blue came a telegram … from some American colleagues… We had won! We have actually won the Oscar!”

The Academy Award, alongside much of Deitch’s work is currently on display at the exhibit celebrating the 70thanniversary of the animation studio Bratři v triku.

The exhibition is hands on, and allows visitors to gain an insight into what working in a Czech animation film studio would have been like in the communist era. Taking a step back in time, it is easy to see how so many cartoons were created before major technological advances were made.

While many of the studio’s cartoons and animation work on display are recognizable, famous for being shown on televisions across the globe, there are also some that are lesser known. Visitors can experience a wide variety of styles, even within a specific art form such as cartoons and film animation.

Although Deitch has been on the Czech animation scene for more than 55 years, he is still influential and inspiring to many across the globe, and not only within the animation scene, but as an American who defied one of the darkest parts of Czech history to fall in love with Prague.

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