Zdenek Miler, “The Mole and the Eagle / Kiskavond es a sas” (1992)
Yet another delightful episode from the Little Mole / Krtecek series and moreover one of the best and most inventive episodes as well; it’s about love, friendship and loyalty and what could be more heart-warming than the friendship between Krtecek and the young eagle he finds as an orphan?
The countryside where Krtecek lives is flooded after heavy storms and after being washed out of his home, Krtecek finds a lost orphan eagle. He brings it up and teaches it to fly. The eagle is tracked by a hunter whom Krtecek tries to divert but ends up being captured and taken home as a pet for the hunter’s son. Eagle rescues Krtecek but the hunter manages to wound him with a bullet. Krtecek calls the paramedics to take Eagle to hospital where he undergoes emergency surgery and recuperates in bed. Mechanised equipment feed Eagle and change his bandages and the doctors do double duty as jazz musicians in one of the more bizarre and surrealist passages in the film – but, hey, this is a Czech film so what did we expect? Soon Eagle and Krtecek leave the hospital and they travel to the city together, marvelling at the incongruity of forest on the tops of buildings (in Western countries, there would be only penthouses and swimming pools for the rich) and paying for drinks at a skyscraper cafe with a feather. Eagle takes Krtecek to mountainous country where Krtecek nearly loses his life to a dastardly fox and Eagle finally finds one of his own kind – a girl eagle, natch. Krtecek is saddened that the demands of the natural order and Darwinian evolution take precedence over their unlikely friendship but not for long: Eagle remembers Krtecek’s babysitting skills and before long Krtecek is playing nanny to a bunch of screaming brats.
The glories of the film are to be found in the animals’ numerous and varied encounters with human beings: some treat the animals well and others, well, not so benevolently but even the worst humans Krtecek and Eagle meet are kindly in their own way. The doctors could have come straight out of Jaroslav Hasek’s famous novel “The Good Soldier Svejk”, their fancy black moustaches and prissy manner reminding me of quaint Ruritanian soldiers from the far reaches of the old Austro-Hungarian empire. Miler’s eye for detail is at its most creative and original in the scenes where emergency relief workers help people come down from the tops of churches, trees and houses after the great flood has subsided, and the hospital scenes where Eagle has his operation and is taken to a ward to recover. Then it’s off to the busy, bustling city where cars follow one another smoothly with nary a sight of a traffic jam or two drivers punching the lights out of each other in mutual road rage.
The look of the film is deceptively simple but its details can be very technical in a functional and minimalist way without appearing over-fussy. The adventures the two animals share segue into one another naturally and seamlessly depending on the situation and viewers can almost predict what will happen as Miler puts in objects that Krtecek or Eagle finds a use for almost by accident. The accordion-dominated music is cheerful and sweet without becoming sentimental or sickly.
Highly recommended viewing for families with young viewers for its adorable characters who demonstrate loyalty to each other and express love, affection and happiness without affect.